OK. So, I have always preferred that our family eat dinner together. Of course, there were times when the kids would complain about not being allowed to go do this or that during the dinner hour. But as they have gotten older even my children have admitted they valued time with the whole family around the dinner table.Which is why it was difficult for me to come to a realization last night.Josh asked for permission to miss dinner. He wanted to spend time with a friend, and had a list of fairly decent reasons for said visit.Of course, my first impulse was to say, No. To hold fast to my standard that you don't miss dinner with the family unless it can't be helped. But I paused for a moment before I said anything, and in that moment something (or SomeOne) in me clicked. I thought about Elizabeth. It's been quite a while since she's been home to eat with us. I imagine she has plenty of evenings when she hangs out with friends instead of having a sit-down dinner. For that matter, I think back to when I was 18 and attending college. It was not uncommon for me to keep odd hours. Most nights I dined with friends. Family time was limited to occasional visits home.With these considerations in my head, I looked at my 18-year-old, community-college-enrolled, living-at-home son and I became conscious of fact that - if he were a traditional college student he wouldn't be home for dinner Wednesday evening, anyway. Neither would he have been home Tuesday. Nor would he be Thursday.And it occurred to me that, perhaps, this moment was an opportunity for me practice letting go. That is, I realized I might have been playing the role of helicopter-mom and holding my son back from his natural tendency to take flight.Part of me says I'm seeing too much into that moment (The helicopter part of me!) but another part realizes I need to take these steps.