At some point in time, every parent (especially the mom) is forced to start practicing the art of letting go. I’m at that point and I have to say, I never thought it would be so painful!
I’ve written a few posts about letting go, in different contexts, but this one isn’t just about letting my kids start to do things on their own. This one is about truly letting go of them. I have to face reality…my kids are growing up and whether I like it or not, I can’t control every situation anymore. It’s a particular challenge for me because we have two kids in our house who still need more focus and direction than the older two, who need us to start easing off on those things. It’s not easy to keep shifting gears between each stage of kids in this house. In earlier days, when my brain wasn’t so frazzled, I probably could have better handled shifting back and forth, but that kind of concentration is no easy feat for me anymore!
My teens (and perhaps their friends) might say I tend to be a little more strict than some of their friends’ parents. A big part of that is because that’s just who I am…I am never going to be the parent that says, “sure, go ahead…whatever you think/want…(just stay out of jail!)”. In fact, I’m much more like the parent who wrote this awesome letter to her children. But I also recognize that I am often guilty of trying to prevent anything bad from happening…like, ever. Not only is it a bad idea to try and make sure no one ever has to deal with disappointment, but it’s also not humanly possible for someone to sustain this level of “fixing everything”. I’m quickly realizing that for their sakes and my sanity, I have to become more of an expert in letting go (I say, as a chill runs down my spine).
This revelation came to me last week when my oldest asked to go out for a bit (on a school night) and then came home later than when I told him to be home. He often arrives home past the time I give him, so we argued. After the argument, it dawned on me that next year, I won’t be there to tell him he can’t go out on a school night, what time to be home, or anything else, for that matter. Also, and most importantly, I realized that if we keep doing this every time he wants to go out, he might just remember more of the arguing and me being upset with him, than all of the good stuff. And there is so much good stuff I’d rather him remember!
So, I’m letting go – or rather, giving it my best attempt. I told him I won’t say anything about him going out, as long as I know where he’s going and with whom. He looked at me like I grew three new heads. I assured him I’ll refrain from telling him he can’t go out and, within reason, I won’t tell him when he has to be home (and just so you know, I think I die a little bit inside each time I smile and say that). I won’t be able to restrict what he does when he’s away at school (God help me), so I might as well get used to it. In all fairness, we have really good kids. I have to remember that and trust in all the time and energy we’ve put into teaching them what they need to be successful on their own.
I have to start asking myself more often, “will it matter in six months?” and really think about the answer before I react because usually, the answer is no. And if the answer is no, then why the heck am I spending so much time and energy arguing about something that doesn’t matter? It’s a work-in-progress and I’m hoping it will result in fewer raised voices, frustration and negative energy in our house. Our two younger children deserve to have as much of our focus as the older two had at that age. If I can get better at letting go, I just might have enough energy to give them that focus.
Funny story: the next evening, my oldest let me know he was going out. I told him that was great and to have fun…no time to be home (again, dying inside). Oddly enough, he arrived home five minutes before the time I had asked him to be home the night before. Looks like hubby is right when he tells me that some things just aren’t worth trying to control.