The Letting Go Hand by Nancy Carolyn Kwant

We hold hands, my girl and I, as we walk up the road to school.  In her free hand is her Dora lunch box and in mine is the dog’s leash.  I have come to savor these early morning walks.

Kindergarten has started.  Gone are the days of strolling leisurely through the cove, building fairy houses of debris washed ashore, fighting off pirates on the rocks, or drinking tea and nibbling on freshly baked coffee cake while Jack, our Flat Coat Retriever, head resting on paws, waits for a crumb to fall.

As much as we prepared for this, our morning schedule has been



and rudely interrupted.


I’m trying to grow accustomed to it but every fiber of my being is fighting against it.

Monday through Friday life suddenly feels very…,well, scheduled.

Wake by seven

Ten to fifteen minutes for breakfast

Overpack lunch with healthy choices.

Sign all necessary paperwork.

Put paperwork into THE purple folder in the “Return to School” slot.

While this flurry of activity is happening, my daughter says,

“Mama, come sit with me?”

“Mama, let’s tell a story.”

I stop dead in my tracks and in my head, it is screaming,


Instead my face goes soft, “Oh lovey, I’m sorry, we don’t have time right now.”



I watch her ascend the stairs slowly as if that will somehow change the outcome.

Meanwhile, the morning general barks out commands:

“Feed the turtle.”

“Wash your face.”

“Brush your teeth.”

“Make your bed.”

“And remember to wear underwear….”

Outfits are chosen the night before to avoid fashion mayhem.

Dishes in the sink, kale and bits of carrot on the floor, spills on the counter, but if I pause to address these items, I will not be ready in time.

If I start to be tardy, then my patience will become short and my daughter will pay the price.


She is at the bottom of the stairs now.

She breathes in my face to prove she brushed her teeth.

Comb hair and apply tea tree oil because some Facebook page said that was how to protect against lice.

Just one more thing to worry about now.


I gather my things.

She starts to play with her “girls”-her Barbies.  She is kneeling down, dressing them, talking to them as she begins to create a new story.

Wincing inside, I have to gently guide her toward her backpack and the door.

I want us out the door by eight so, selfishly, I don’t have to rush our walk.

Once outside, our hands locked, I feel like I am able to breathe again for a moment.

I feel like I am able to be present and listen as she wonders aloud what “lively letter’ she will learn today or who the “helping hand” will be for the teacher.

I am listening to her but I am also thinking about how her hand feels in mine.

So smooth and soft.

Her once pudgy fat fingers are now long and sleek with chipped nail polish in varying colors and there is a roughness from a scratch on her knuckle.


Jack stops at the road down to the cove.

“No buddy, we’ve got to take our girl to school.”

I think his ears and tail droop.

I try to be upbeat, but I am not upbeat AT ALL.

The truth is I hate it.


Jack pulls the leash, not convinced, not understanding in his canine mind, and she and I look at each other,

“Oh how we wish we could….”

I fantasize for a moment about not continuing straight, but veering right, the two of us running toward the ocean…,

…and then she sings, “Number one is like a stick….” and she has taught me the words by the time we round the corner.


Jack drags behind us-depressed.

I get a pang in my stomach as we approach the school.

I wonder now if it is my gait that purposely slows down, ever so slightly,

as I try to milk every…



For you see, it will not be until after tomorrow morning’s chaos that I will get this time again.


She sees two of her school mates, she grins and just like that…,

…lets go of my hand.

She makes a move to run, pauses, looking at me with a small trace of guilt,

My chest feels tight.  I don’t want her to feel guilty.  If anything I want to feel proud because my child has achieved a certain level of confidence-of independence.  I admit that a small part of me is glad she felt deeply enough to acknowledge what I might be feeling because in addition to independence I want her to also be empathetic.

“I want to walk in with my friends!”

I swallow hard and smile, “Oh lovey, go ahead!” controlling my cracking voice.

I steal a kiss before she goes and with her,  just a wee bit of my heart.


Nancy Carolyn Kwant became a mother at 40.  Her daughter, Gabriella just started second grade.  She lives in Gloucester, MA and, professionally, works as a Spanish medical interpreter.

Four years ago, she joined a Writing Mothers’ Workshop which has been a vital factor to her mother-work-life balance.

  1. 5 Responses to “The Letting Go Hand by Nancy Carolyn Kwant”

  2. Okay well done and you are one truly amazing sister, mother and writer. Truly enjoyed the read. Touché

    By Diane Kwant on Sep 13, 2018

  3. Letting go is probably healthier and the coffee will be warmer – than “camping” outside of your 1st child’s classroom for over a month! I did do that – he was the 1st of six children – and has traveled the world – to places I do not even know where!thanks for the memory! cj

    By cathei jones on Sep 13, 2018

  4. Thank you Nancy for putting into words we mothers have felt and continue to feel

    By Cynthis on Sep 13, 2018

  5. Just read it to mom. Nancy she is very proud of you! Reminds her of when she and Daddy had to take you to kindergarden. They always wanted to run in and snatch you back as the last of the brood. You paint such such detailed scenes with your well choose words!

    By Martha & Ima Kwant on Sep 14, 2018

  6. Nancy, your sweet words kept my attention – and now I long for more! ipora!

    By Carole B on Sep 15, 2018