My girl is outgrowing me.

I know this is how it’s supposed to be.

The idea of raising my kids to take their own steps out into the world has become more difficult. Little by little, I feel my heart breaking with each new stride she takes into independence and away from me.

This world has expanded right before her eyes, and her arms reach out to take in all the things I cannot see and all the people I do not know. The worry that comes with not seeing and knowing everything can be suffocating. The distance widens, the bridge narrows, and I ache with a gentle wonder at it all.

But this is how it’s supposed to be.

My girl is outgrowing me.

I cherish those moments when she reaches toward me. I clasp them tight in my grasp and quietly celebrate the connection that remains. She still calls me home. I’m her launching pad, her landing ground, and her safety net.

But when she’s gone, with people I don’t know well in places I’ve never been, I agonize about the details, about her heart, about her choices. I worry about the influence these critical elements in her life will have on who she is and who she will become.

“Should I come into the house to get you?” I ask, hoping I get a glance.

“No you don’t need to, Mom. Just text me when you get here.”

I wait in the car, idling outside a house I’ve never been in, filled with people I do not know, and this cracks open a new unsettled place in me, a harsh taste of reality. I search the people walking outside and squint to see into the windows to see anything that might hint at her experience.

Cars line the streets, the house is crowded, and people are starting to leave. I spot the one familiar family I knew was going to be here, and that eases my ache a little. I feel like an outsider looking into someone else’s world – her world. It’s awkward, uncomfortable.

But this is how it’s supposed to be.

My girl is outgrowing me.

As I always do, I ask for more details. Sometimes she’ll excitedly share about it all, and other times her vague responses leave me hanging. Our one world has been split in two. She leaves hers to come back into mine. I stifle my need to be in hers.

I don’t push it. I simply make sure she knows I’m here. But I still get the old baby I once knew when she randomly invites me in, sharing frustrations with friends and thoughts about boys, the pressures that burden her about schoolwork and swim team, along with the daily wardrobe and hairstyle choices.

She shares pictures of so many faces while she points and identifies these new friends she is getting to know. It’s all blurry and overwhelming, because these people are strangers to me. Are they dangerous to her?

I’m fiercely fighting off the fears, spurring on excitement and joy to take their place, as my girl leaps into these high school moments full of so many things, so many details I don’t know. I miss knowing.

But this is how it’s supposed to be.

She’s outgrowing me.

She talks incessantly about the upcoming homecoming dance and this new group of girls and boys she is going with. We went to five stores to find the perfect dress and shoes, and they are just that – perfect. I want to come take pictures. I want to see her in her dress and take in her new surroundings. I want to meet her new friends and connect with their parents and find my way through this foreign territory of high-school-level terrain.

I want to be in it, relish it, just for this time.

“Oh, you don’t need to go, Mom. Other people will be taking pictures.”

“But I want to! I want to meet your friends and see you in your dress and meet the parents!”

“Well, okay, but please don’t act crazy.”

She’s outgrowing me.

And this is how it’s supposed to be.

She’s outgrowing my “crazy” overly excited mama ways. I face the gut-wrenching truth that I must grow with her, grow toward her without crowding her, shift my ways to meet her exactly where she is. She no longer wants the insanely inappropriate, overdramatic, wildly passionate mama.

She needs a high school mom now.

And being a high school mom is new to me. So very new. I have a lot to learn. So I’ll work on my new ways, and pray she continues to let me peek into her world as she outgrows mine.

As heartbreaking and agonizing as this slow breakup is, I clearly see that this is how it’s supposed to be.