You knew this time was coming.
When they were little – you couldn’t wait for it.
There were those who warned you – but you didn’t listen. You couldn’t wait “until they were older.”
When other parents sided up next to you and yours, smiled and said – “enjoy them as they are” – you thought they were insane.
You wanted this part to “hurry up” be over.
Now, you understand all too well what they meant.
I know certainly do.
I have come to realize, that holding on (all too often) means letting go. Parents have to let their children go. Inasmuch as we would like to protect them from the all the ills the world has to offer, “holding on” too tightly prevents children from gaining the experiences necessary to become the people they were meant to be.
They were 6yrs, 5yrs, 3yrs, and 1yr old. I took them out to eat. The harder I tried to create a calm, peaceful, atmosphere, the more determined they became to act like the children they were. In retrospect, theywere not that bad, it is just that we were not like the “other” families with children sitting nicely and eating quietly.
My preconceived notions of how dinner was supposed to be couldn’t have been further from reality. We laughed too loud. Food that should have been on the plates, wound up on the floor, things that should have been on the floor wound up on the plates. Liquids meant for drinking were used for playing, and the “calm” Normal Rockwell-like mealtime became extremely chaotic and circus-like.
My children were oblivious to the people who looked our way. I was’nt. When I was finally able to “let go” of the way “I thought”dinner was supposed to be, I calmed the situation by encouraging them to talk. We became engrossed in what was left of our meal, and as we started telling stories, a very old woman came to the table and put her hand on my shoulder. My face felt hot, but I held her gaze. I thought she was going to admonish me for bringing such unruly children into the restaurant. I could just hear her telling me that “I should have known better.” My children – who now sat perfectly still – must have sensed my uneasiness because as she approached, there was silence at our table. The other diners turned their attention towards our table and waited to hear what she had to say. I believe the onlookers thought this woman was going to tell me what they had been thinking? Much to their dismay (and my relief) she didn’t; she said simply “ This too shall pass.” No truer words have been spoken.
The woman that came up to us that day, could see from an outsider’s perspective that I had children who were simply happy to be with me, taking joy in the moment.
How many precious moments do we miss because we have a preconceived notion of the way things are “supposed” to be? We hold on to the idea that we create about the way our children are “supposed” to be and forget to see them for the beautiful creative talented individuals they really are.
There is a very special place in his heart for you, yet there is an invisible divide as he begins his journey into the world of men. The sense of pride in what you’ve created is accompanied by a deep and foreboding sense of pain when you realize that each step that takes him closer to the “manhood” world, takes him further and further away from you. You want to “hold on” to the little boy that talked non-stop about his favorite cartoon and left plastic tonka trucks a foot step apart in any direction, just for you each night. You “let go” of the idea that you are still the one in whom confides, and accept his explanation of ” aw Mom, it’s just, man-stuff.”
Occasionally, behind the young woman’s frame, peer the eyes of the child I once knew. At 17, she is quite different from the 7lb 5oz, miracle baby I thought would never happen, whose birth taught me the true meaning of patience, endurance, and the wonders of an epidural. Now, I sit in rapt attention, as a much younger, more attractive version of myself, looks tentatively back at me, and wonder where the time has gone; I want to “hold on” to my little girl yet the intensity of her conversation brings with it the painful realization that it is time to “let go.”
There is a quote (author unknown) who says “ I wish I were what I was when I wished I was what I am now.” Had I known better, I think perhaps then, I might have been able to see those times for what they really were, precious moments. How much of what is special do we miss because we “hold on” to our notion of how things are “supposed” to be?
Letting go affords our children the opportunity to learn the lessons necessary for survival. It has to happen
In many ways, letting go forces us to face the future as a part of their past, but “holding on” prevents us from participating in “their” present. As parents, we must acquire the ability to walk the fine line between “holding on” and “letting go.”
I hope that my children will someday understand, as I now do, that above all else, I am just a person, who on any given day, found herself in a sort of give and take, between holding on and letting go.