The day they left my hand…
The kids and I were walking home after spending the afternoon in the park. We were busy playing I spy when I felt Mia let go of my hand and go off running ahead, “Catch me! ” SHE LET GO. It was the first time since she learned to walk that she didn’t want to hold my hand. I’m sure all you parents out there can relate, and you’d agree that it hits you. I’m not sure how to best describe it, all I can say is you feel it in your chest, you feel it in your stomach, you feel it all over like a part of you physically disconnected from your body. I took a moment to snap back and then smiled to myself…My baby is growing up. A few weeks later, it happened again. We went away for the weekend to visit a beautiful little town known for its clear skies and the oldest pisco factories. After a tasting session, while we were heading out, Ethan left my hand and ran…HE LET GO. You’d think it would have been easier this time around but no, it was as difficult as the first time. Yet again, I needed a moment to snap back.
If you are a parent, tell me…do you not sometimes wish you could cuddle with your kids a little longer? Hold them against your chest and rock them to sleep as you did during the first few months? Want to feel their tiny fingers grip yours? The memory of them laughing for the first time, saying their first words, eating their first meal? Don’t you wish you could relive all of them again? (Let’s pretend the sleepless nights didn’t exist, shall we?) And when you are cleaning out their closet, you come across their newborn onesie, don’t you get nostalgic?
The day they let go, is a bittersweet moment filled with mixed emotions. We know our kids are growing up, we know they are getting independent and that’s a good thing. We are happy and proud that they are growing up but in reality, we are just not ready to let go. Will we ever be? Do you remember the phase when you taught them to walk? Now with every passing day, the more independent they get, we relive that phase of teaching them to walk all over again. You know you have to leave their hand; you know they will first have those wobbly walks and you know they may fall. But when they fall…Do you catch them? Or do let them fall? You will catch them the first few times and then probably let them fall but only for them to get back up and get walking again. And that fills you with pride.
But like Kahlil Gibran says in his poem on Children,
“Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you they belong not to you.”
Let me emphasize, “They belong not to you”…yup, we know it but we have a hard time accepting it. It’s not about letting go, as much as it is the realization that your babies don’t need you anymore that sinks in. After all, they have been with us, needing us around the clock ever since they were born till maybe a few months after. The emotional battle is real. They are individuals, they have their role to play and they have their own mistakes and choices to make. Though we are their parents, we need to constantly remind ourselves that they do not belong to us. We as parents are merely mediators and our job is to give them the tools to help them be the individuals they are meant to be. We have a huge responsibility, it goes beyond feeding them and providing them with the necessities. It is to nurture, care, and love them and most importantly empower them to become the best versions of themselves. After all, we are raising the future generation. And it’s not an easy task.
Letting go has been a liberating experience as a parent. It’s gifting your child the freedom to explore, to make their own choices, to take their path, to be who they want to be. Letting go is helping them unleash their potential. It is about trusting them. You’ve given them the tools. You taught them to walk. Now trust that they can, trust that if they fall they will pick themselves up and dust themselves off and run again. And you’re going to be there watching them while they stumble and watching them when they achieve great heights and all the way in between. And if they ever need that extra nudge you are going to be there in their corner to cheer them on, hug them or kiss that boo-boo away and let them get going again. It’s not only about raising independent kids but trusting them, building their self-confidence and self-esteem in the process. It’s about helping them believe in themselves and watching them grow.
I have made my peace with the reality that they are going to grow up, they are going to be independent, they are going to live life on their terms. They won’t need me to make their meals or help them change or tuck them into bed when they are older but I will forever be there to hug them when they need it, to be their cheerleader all their life and to be their emotional support and anchor when life is hard at them. Even though they will grow up and not need me anymore, I’ll always be there.
So, dear mama, they have let go…it’s time you do too!
P.S- Dear kids, if you ever read this, I want you to know that I love you and will always be here. Even though I wish you remain my babies forever, I am so proud to see how loving, friendly, and independent you already are. I take pride to call myself your mama. ❤️❤️