Preparing to Let Go
I did it. I have begun a new phase in this journey that will ultimately give me both amazing joy and deep heartache.
I have signed my daughter up for class. Two to be exact: Mommy and Me Montessori on Wednesdays and Music Together on Thursdays. I am looking forward to these excursions with my daughter and I believe she will love them and look forward to going. But this leaves me a bit sad because I always look far ahead when a momentous thing like "going to class" comes into my life.
I know that one day soon, I will not be going to class with my daughter anymore. I know, I know . . . it will be wonderful to have some free time on my hands or go back to work or volunteer or whatever, but I am nervous about it.
Parenting is about preparing. Sure it's about love, joy, frustration, learning, etc., etc. But it ultimately is about preparing. From the moment your child is conceived you prepare your body, life and home for the little one. Once she is born, you then spend the next several years preparing her.
Everything you do as a parent is done to prepare your child for life. Everything. Teaching her how to use utensils, how to use the potty, how to read, write, add, subtract, how to love, forgive, fail, succeed, work, relax, play, color inside and outside the lines, how to be polite, how to make friends and how to break friendships, how to go up the steps to go down the slide. How to go to school. How to become.
My niece is entering her junior year in high school and her parents are preparing her for college - how to decide, making visits, what to do in school now. And I know her mother does not want her to go away to school because she loves the relationship she has with her daughter, loves the woman she is becoming, wants to be in her life like she is now.
And at first I didn't quite understand that. I have said, and will always say, that if my daughter wants to go away for college, I am fine with that. I want her to go to a school that is the best for her, one where she will succeed and grow and prosper. But, now that we are taking our first two classes together, I am feeling the first pangs of that heartache that is coming in 16 years. In case you haven't noticed, I have to prepare myself in advance for some of these dramatic life changes that I know are coming. It helps balance the dramatic life changes that I don't see coming.
Dan Rodricks wrote a column in the Baltimore Sun yesterday about his son going off to college. In the column he talks about the melancholy he feels over this event and that other parents share this emotion and quotes a parent who says, "It was by far the hardest and saddest day of my life as a parent . . . I guess, looking back, we were this perfectly happy family of four and life was great until one day we woke up and realized that one of the foursome had a new role to assume."
And now I understand more fully my sister-in-law's sadness over the possibility of her daughter going away to college. But that's the ironic part: You spend your whole life as a parent preparing your child for that moment when they step out into the world by themselves, and many times saying it can't come soon enough, only to want them to never actually go.
I know what some of you are thinking: Linda has gone off the deep end, why is she thinking about this when she's only going to Mommy and Me?
Because my job is to prepare this little one bopping around the house for that moment when I have to let go. And if I can understand what it is that I fear, I can then understand my job more completely.
The fear: That she will go out into the world and mess up big time; that she will be ill-prepared for adulthood; that my life will have little meaning without her at home.
Ahhh . . . there it is. There is no stopping the fact that my daughter will indeed have a new role to assume. But so, too, will I. And as much as I am preparing my daughter for that role, I must prepare myself for that time when I am no longer teaching her how to tie her shoelaces or what it means to compromise.
Letting her go will be the hardest thing I will have to do in my life. Letting her go with the knowledge that I have prepared her, and myself, well will allow me to open my arms and embrace what's next rather then spend the next five days under the covers sobbing.
But I still reserve the right to sob for one day.
-Posted by Linda