Looking Back and Letting Go

I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days at home this past week.  It was nothing very exciting except for the fact my kids got to play and spend time with their cousins, and that’s always a good thing.  But as stressful and annoying as it can be at times to be with family, it was great to be home. And as you all know, home for me will always be Miami.

Part of Miami’s public transportation network is the Metrorail, an elevated train system that basically encircles the city.  In previous trips home, my son would always comment on how he wanted to ‘ride the train’, and like most parents pressed for time I would give him the obligatory answer of “maybe next time, buddy.”  So there I found myself in Miami with my kids and absolutely no plans whatsoever.  I decided to fulfill that promise and take my kids for a ride on the Metrorail.

As challenging and sometimes nerve-wracking as it was, it was loads of fun.  I got to do something with my kids that I was never able to do before, which was taking them on my own around the city.  Just me, the kids and a pocket full of change.  They were very excited and, of course, thought that being high above the city in a train was the coolest thing.  For me, it brought back so many memories of how I used to get home from school after soccer practice every day.  But I also realized how parental I was with my kids.  “Stay away from the edge of the track!  Don’t touch that, it’s dirty!  Hurry up, we’re going to miss the train!”

I think back at how my parents would entrust me to get home on my own as a teenager, and I shudder at the thought of exposing my kids to this type of environment on a daily basis.  I look at all the stupid stuff I would do because we were unsupervised, and I plan on how I will be able to use technology to keep tabs on my kids. I reflect on being young and adventurous, yet all I want is for my kids to be conservative and safe.  I guess that comes with the territory of being a parent.

Or maybe it’s just part of life constantly changing.  In the early eighties, the City of Miami had a tourism campaign in which the slogan read, “Miami.  See it like a Native.”  Now, more that 20 years removed from those ads, I find myself looking at my hometown as a visitor would.  I marvel at all the new construction.  I am amazed by the fancy new federal courthouse and the full-length banner ads that drape the downtown office buildings.  I curse the incessant traffic and the imported maniacs that contribute to the gridlock.

But it’s foolish to think that things will always stay the same.  After all, don’t we all secretly hope that today will be different from yesterday?  Don’t we plan on making New Year’s resolutions in anticipation that the upcoming year will be brighter and better than the last?  This brings me back to my kids.  I sometimes think it would be great if my little girl could stay six years old.  “Don’t grow up” I tell her.  “Stay young forever.”  But I know that’s impossible, and one day she and Daniel will indeed be all grown up.  It will be their turn to move out and take on the world on their own.

So it is with great hesitation that I concede that part of life is learning to let go.  It’s being able to let go of a city I knew once and accept that it is now a bigger and busier place.  It is looking into the future knowing that I will not be able to implant a GPS chip in my kids, and just accept the time will come when they will have their own choices to make and responsibilities to keep.  It is looking back at warm, wonderful memories and knowing they will forever be in my past because there is no place for them in my present.

We all grow up, we all get old, and at one point or another we all have to let go of those things we never dreamed would ever change.  But time makes exceptions for no one, and all good things do eventually come to an end.  We just need to remind ourselves that sometimes we need to let go of the old in order to make room for the new.

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