I was riding my bike to school last Friday when I saw a good friend of on the bike path up ahead. Even though I was late I had to stop and say hi. When I stopped, my dear friend burst into tears. She had just dropped off her daughter at college, the last of her children at home. I knew what she was feeling… a hole in her life. Another friend, whose oldest also just left for college, said to me, “The letting go is so hard! You know its coming but it’s still somehow really abrupt and jarring when it happens.” I knew exactly what she meant. You’re somehow unprepared for this transition. I watched the parents of my preschoolers so excited and yet unsure as they left their child on the first day. I completely understood. I’ve done my share of letting go.
“A star falls from the sky and into your hands. Then it seeps through your veins and swims inside your blood and becomes every part of you. And then you have to put it back into the sky. And it’s the most painful thing you’ll ever have to do and that you’ve ever done. But what’s yours is yours. Whether it’s up in the sky or here in your hands.”
― C. JoyBell C.
This short quote really hit me as an incredible metaphor for being a parent. Once you have children they become a part of you. Being a parent defines who you are for many years. As for our kids, from the time they are born they’re gaining independence and we’re letting go of them. What a challenge! And it’s never more evident than when school starts.
My preschool parents are starting the first experience with school and letting go. They are still the most important person in their child’s life – the Caregiver. Middle School and High School parents are learning huge letting go lessons as their children demand and gain more independence. Now the parenting role changes to more of a Counselor. College and Empty Nest parents are left with that hole and a chance to have a wonderful new relationship with their kids, maybe more of a friend.
“My child isn’t ready for…(insert activity).” Of course they’re not ready. Few people are. And sometimes you’re not ready to let go. But this is so important! Let go of him. Let her make mistakes. Let your child have successes! Be there during those mistakes and successes! A child is like a butterfly. If you do not allow the cocoon to grow and the wings to spread the butterfly will not live. All the stages are exciting, bittersweet, freeing, happy and sad all at the same time.
How to Let Go at each stage?
1. First put on a brave face, with grace. Fall apart or whoop with joy later!
2. Allow, accept and then embrace the moment fully.
3. Let go of guilt – you’re doing the best job possible!
4. Let go of fear – your child will make mistakes and that’s good. Yay mistakes! You grow to the next level with mistakes.
5. Let go of anger and judgment in your conversations if your child wants to talk or asks advice.
6. Let go of control by being a “Counselor” type parent versus a “helicopter” or “drill sergeant”. (There’s a great book, Love and Logic, that explains these parenting styles in more detail. Although the names alone gives you the idea!)
7. Turn the new time you have into your energy for yourself. See yourself as someone other than a parent. Have fun. Remember all those things you always wanted to do but didn’t have time for?
So stand aside (this gives wings), while at the same time be there (this gives roots), and let your children become who they are. And in letting go, you become who you are meant to be, too.
Would you like the Zen Mama’s Blog delivered to your inbox? Just enter your email below. I promise it won’t be shared!!