Motherhood & Letting Go….
The theme in my life right now is the lesson of Letting Go. It is so hard and I wrestle it a bit, and as a Mom, for some reason I am going with the flow, but never the less, it is not easy.
My oldest is our only daughter and being the oldest, she has had the joy and pain of being first at all of our parenting experiences. The joy is that we are fully present, we are there for her, we adore her, we embrace each milestone with enthusiasm & love. The pain is that she is our first, our only daughter, and we hold on tight at times, we let our fears bubble up, we also make mistakes—we laugh with her about this as we acknowledge that her youngest brother will have it easier, in which he already does (the grip lessens with each one). Many of her friends are either the 3rd or 4th child and I believe that has helped, as it pushes me along with the fact they are growing up, and it has helped me find balance in that need to protect yet prepare.
I am learning with teenagers, that you play the role of teacher, protector, guardian, disciplinarian and keep a watchful eye on their world—setting boundaries that keep them safe from the realities of what happens in high school, and the paths you want them to avoid, and make good choices. I feel a shift in me, I feel a shift in my parenting, I have been heavy on the rules & boundaries and I find myself allowing more space for choices, and letting go more, and allowing for space and independence. I never think of myself as strict, but I do see myself as involved and protective. She thinks I am cool because of my personality, but she knows I am tough when it comes to the important things, oh, that balance thing creeps in every crevice of my life.
She likes to remind me she will be 18 next month, even thou she is finishing out her Junior Year in high school. She also asks me to trust her, to trust her judgement, to trust her ability to expand her circle, her independence, it is all shifting. I can clearly remember a conversation I had with my Dad when I was in college (I am the youngest of 5), we were walking and we were talking about parenting teens, and he said “Pam, you’ve got to trust your kids, there comes a time that you just need to trust that you did the right things, and they will make the right decisions”. A conversation from almost 30 years ago, is a lesson I am living out today, boy do I wish I could talk with him more about this. But truth be told, I get what he means, you develop relationships with your kids, and it is through those relationships that you build trust.
I have taught her from the time she was a tween to play defense when it comes to boys. While she has her own values and I give credit to her for this, it has been a conversation we have had over the years, the importance of respecting herself, her body, and standing firm in those values (which can get confusing for teens as they are exposed to so much in high school). I am proud of her, I am proud of who she is, I am proud that she takes this seriously, and has used discernment over the years. While she begins a new relationship that came out of no where, that is progressing very nicely (and surprisingly fast), I find myself letting go even more and I am surprising myself as I see my girl go from girl to young woman. While her Dad is having a harder time with it, we are both happy for her, and grateful to see two incredibly great kids be together, having fun, treating each other well, and the excitement, joy and magic of young love. And just like that, she is expanding her circle—she is growing and she is becoming more independent.
In a year she will be going off to college, in one month she will turn 18 and just like each milestone, her brothers will follow her lead. I find myself trying to find the balance of holding on and letting go (it is hard) but it is beautiful. I wish my mom and mother in law (who is ill), could be here, and talk with me, and tell me I am doing it right…. But, I can hear my mom now, she is saying “you’ve got this, you are doing this, you are doing this and you are there for her, but she is growing up, and so are you”! My MIL who was captivated with our girl, she would be smiling and she would say she is lovely, everything about her is lovely, she would feel my trepidation and would express her own, but in the scheme of life, she would look at all of this as part of life, and would enjoy this stage of parenting. Watching us both grow as women, me as a mom, and my daughter as a woman. It is beautiful and wondrous, and the miracle that is life.
If there is any such thing as holding on, while letting go, that is what I am experiencing right now. Any Mom that sends her child off to college knows that you want them to experience independence before they go, and I am guessing this is part of it. The evolution of of life, growing, parenting, childhood, adulthood, motherhood. Generation to generation, the hopes and dreams we have all of a sudden happen in front of our eyes, it is happening. I am holding on. I am letting go.
I will hold on forever, I am never letting go. However, I will let go as I walk this path with her, and be behind her every step of the way and do the same for her brothers. I don’t have it all figured out, but what I do know is that Moms are the most bad ass people in the world, that is what I know for sure! Not only do you need to raise human beings and care for them, you need to manage this huge emotion, this emotion of love that is so strong, that it can overcome you at times. There is no other love than that of a mother, and that love never ends, it grows inside of us, and our children become our heart beat, even thou we let go, we are always holding on!