This week was stressful. There were several reasons for that but pervading all was the knowledge that my 19-year old son was leaving to go on an overseas trip – by himself. I realize that 19 sounds old and even looks old, but through my mom-eyes, 19 feels like not-old-enough. Not because my son is not capable. He is. It has much more to do with his mom feeling like she hasn’t had time to prepare for the letting go. Despite lots of other pressing commitments, I could only think of my son. My thoughts flitting about like a butterfly refusing to settle.
Parenting calls you at times to greater depths of strength and love than you think you possess. At first, that has to do with giving up every ounce of your space, time and sleep to care for another. Through the early years, you learn to always keep a watchful eye, to protect against danger and to say no. Then just as you feel you’re getting the hang of it, your job description changes. It becomes more about saying yes and standing back so your child can try on their own. As parents we watch, we wait. Prepared to pick up the pieces, we fight for their growth. We smother the urge to swoop in and save.
And now there is this moment – waiting out of sight, being watchful without seeing. Realizing that the uncertainty comes not from doubting the capacity of your child, but from the enormity of the letting go.
“Now the toughest paradox of love – letting go and holding on.” Brene Brown
Here is the letter to my sons to remind them of the things I hope I have already taught them.
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