“The other day, I let my teenager go a little, and held on a little.
She’s a high-school student who’s just started dual enrollment at our local community college. Two days a week, after she’s finished with morning classes at her home school, she drives downtown to take a couple college classes.
She mostly set this all up on her own, with the help of her high school counselor, and she’d been feeling excited about it. But last week, ahead of her first day, my teen was all tied up in knots, worrying about textbooks and making it on time from one class to the other when she only has ten minutes and has to trek across campus.
I offered to meet her there that first day, after her morning classes at her high school, to help her find where she was going. She turned me down, so I let it go…let her go a little.
I offered to look online for her textbooks, in case her high school counseling office didn’t have them, as was supposed to happen. She turned me down, so I let it go…let her go a little.
That morning, she wanted to get to school early to check on those textbooks, so I offered to pack her lunch and throw her shirt in the dryer to dewrinkle it. She took me up on those offers…so I held on a little.
I told her goodbye at the door and reminded her to be careful but let go a little and didn’t ask her to text when she got to school after a short, straight-shot drive on very familiar roads she’d driven by herself dozens of times.
I held on a little and made sure my phone volume was way up so I could hear if she called with a problem from campus.
I held on a little and breathed a sigh of relief with each text update throughout the day: the textbooks were in her locker; she’d gotten to campus and found a parking spot; she’d found her classes; she’d made it from one to the other with time to spare.
I held on a little and made her dinner before dance.
When she got home for the night, I let go a little and didn’t press about what was wrong after I’d asked and she’d answered, ‘I’m just tired.’
All their lives, we do this letting-go and holding-on dance with our children. We let them go so they can learn something new but hold on so they can show us what they’ve learned. We let them go so they can find out who they can be but hold on so they know we love who they already are.
Letting go makes me think of unclenching my fists, but I’m glad we get to do it finger-by-finger with our children. We think, at every stage, that we don’t know how to do it, this letting go, but then we find out that we learn how to do it the same way we’ve learned everything at every new stage of parenting: little by little. Except for loving our kids, which, from the beginning, happens a lot by a lot.”
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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Elizabeth J. Spencer, blogger at Guilty Chocoholic Mama, of Battle Creek, Michigan. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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