The Challenge of Letting Go

My daughter and I are very close. Not only do I adore her, but she frequently comments about how she’d prefer to spend every day, every hour, every minute by my side.

It never worried me because she’s also incredibly independent, strong and well-adjusted. She goes places, spends time away from me and with other people and has a ball. No unusual attachment here – pretty much a healthy one. And it’s been this way since she was a baby, so it’s just who she is.

But last night, we got fairly emotional as we were cuddling before bedtime, and talking about my work-travel plans over the next year. There’s a lot of speaking engagements and business retreats/seminars that I’ll be leading away from here, plus an incredible once-in-a-lifetime trip to India with my client, Katherine Austin.

It gave me pause, and I began to wonder if I should be staying home more, or flowing with the direction my work and my interests take me, or what.

I explained to my lovely little girl that I need to be a person in addition to being her mother. If my only reason for existence is these precious children, I reasoned, then I’ll be so bereft and empty when they grow up and leave home.

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she explained that on the one hand, she can’t wait to grow up and realize all her dreams but on the other hand, she wants to stay a kid forever so she can always be with me.

Tears rolled down my cheeks, too. I didn’t know what to say.

It’s hard, this act of letting go. My eldest is already slowly loosening his grip on me as pre-teens do. He’s gone from insisting that he would always live next-door to saying he’s going to move far away and live his life. I can still visit, he assures me. Um, yeah.

He’s evolving in the way that kids do. And I’m still the attached mom who wanted nothing more than to be a mother, who’s devoted my heart, soul and sweat to these children and would do anything for them.

It’s a catch-22. I do believe, fully, that a parent’s responsibility is to that child, who did not asked to be brought into this world, and who is utterly helpless for many of her formative years.

I also believe it’s a parent’s responsibility to set parameters for balance and healthy connection throughout a child’s life. I don’t believe in shoving them on the camp bus and turning away while they scream out the window that they don’t want to leave you. I also don’t believe that putting kids in situations about which they’re nervous but ready is a horrible thing.

My father’s father told him, on the day that I was born, “Now begins the toughest job of your life.”

My grandfather, a man of few words, was 100% right.

How much loving is enough? Is there such a thing as too much love? How are we supposed to let them go when we love them in a way that we don’t love anyone else on the planet?

And how are we supposed to know what is exactly right for each of our offspring, at the right time, in the right place? How can we know best, with no operator’s manual to guide us, what they need, when they need it, and how much they need?

I’m guessing it’s that still, small voice inside that is the best guide.

This year, my kids have been studying Judaism with Rabbi Evon Yakar, through the Adventure Rabbi, via Skype. In our last lesson, my children came to the conclusion that truth lives simultaneously in the heart and in the mouth.

They’re right, you know. That’s where we find this intense, infinite guidance that steers us on the right path, in the right direction, every day of our lives.

It just takes getting quiet, silencing all the distractions, to hear it clearly.

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