elementary school is ending...

And middle school will begin next year for my son. Things are about to get hard.

I'm not worried about academics, he will adjust to that. It's the growing up part.

I expect friendships and relationships to become all consuming, eclipsing us as the center of his world. There will be days when it feels like his whole world is falling apart because a friendship is changing, someone breaks his heart, he feels humiliated or his trust has been broken. He will make mistakes that are hard to fix.

And we will have to learn to be near and available without hovering or smothering. We will have no power to fix things anymore, all we can be is be a ride home, an open ear and a soft place to land.

There's a picture I always take when your children are toddlers, I wish I had one like it, but of us. I've always loved taking this photo because I love to see you parent. And when your child runs towards you, I love the expression of delight and openness that comes over your face. I love how you throw your arms out wide and how your face gets super animated. Your body says

Run to me.

I see you and I am here.

You always belong here in my arms.

Its impossible to imagine that there comes a day where you can't scoop them up and make all their troubles disappear by simply tossing them into the air.

There are days ahead when they will need a reminder that they can come to you. When they need you most you might not even see it, you might be so overwhelmed with life that your expression says anything but "come to me".

Do this: print and frame this pose and display it somewhere near the door. Make sure that when you come home you can see it. Make sure when they come they can see it. Maybe it hangs near the hook for a jacket or near the bench where they always throw their backpack and trombone even though their backpack and trombone doesn't belong there and you keep telling them that but they keep dumping it there anyway.

Just give them a visual cue: I can run to them. Their arms are wide open and they won't judge me because they love me and I belong.

And give yourself a visual cue too: be present, look up, keep your arms wide and be available and without judgement. See the child that needs a lift.