Let them grow

So, it’s Monday again.  A whole week zipped by!  Well, maybe ‘zip’ isn’t exactly the word I would use, if I was being precise.  Rather, the week lurched and slogged and bogged and wept and pulled and pushed and shoved itself along.  It was, by and large, a deep indigo kind of week, for me.  So, I went for silence.  But in the silence, this old brain is always on the spin cycle.  Not that I’m saying that that is a good thing.  But there it is.  Spinning; always turning.

Which means that for me to begin a whole NEW week, I need to clear it out. Hence, housecleaning! Hence, a post! Yay!  Booboo went back.  Jon returned to campus.  He was ready.  We never really are.  But I know it was time.  Hopefully he is safe and sound, as it was so late last night that he didn’t text me upon his arrival….I’ll feel better after I hear from him.  But his departure has me gelling some of the swirling random thoughts and actions of this new year, so, here we go:

We moms, or me/mom, have a tendency, I think, to hang on so tight.  You all know I do.  {Maybe this is just an American thing; my french sis-in-law doesn’t have this angst.  Maybe because we are, by and large, such a pampered nation, and we have the utter luxury of raising pampered kids.  So we hang on to them, not tighter in love than other moms around the world, but rather, tighter in attempted control in many ways.  But, I digress.}  Yet, I’m working hard on not so much now; on relaxing my grip a bit.  The loosening is working hard on me.  You wiser, older moms (ARE there any of you out there, older, I mean???? Wiser, surely! But, older? Hmmmmm) already know this.  But, we have to let them grow, up and out and beyond.  And it’s harder than it seems.

When these cute little kiddles are tiny  babies, we are SO in the moment, right where we should be.  We are so fixated, so sleep deprived, so intensively needed that we can’t really be anywhere else.  And, that’s a good thing.  But, soon enough, the baby does sleep through the night, or at least a FEW hours and then we are on to wondering when they will sit, crawl, stand…walk! And, that’s it.

We cheer and whoop it up and marvel at it all.  And we urge them on.  Until, oh about Kindergarden.  Then, they are stepping out, not only out of our lap in our living room, but out the door and into the big world of school.  And we cry.  We moms, we shed the tears and our heart breaks just a bit. Oh, we cheer them too, but with a pang.  And so it continues for the milestones: losing teeth, first grade, middle school, first teams, then high school, teen stuff, jobs, makeup, big humungous mens’ size shoes, driving (extra oh!), dating (extra oh!),  and the biggie: graduation and off to college and beyond.  Whew.

Now, it’s easy, and right and proper, to say, “Of course we cheer them on and guide them through the milestones! Heck, we work our fannies off to get them there and through; physically, emotionally, logistically and financially!”  And we do.  We all do.  But, and now I’ll speak for myself here, I’m just saying that there is maybe, sometimes, a tiny tendency to hold them back.  It can be subtle.  But, all I’m saying is that it’s all too easy to kind of think, “They’re not ready for_______ (fill in the blank)“.   And, really, I’m talking about the small mundane things.  You all KNOW when your kid is or isn’t ready for a sleepover or a camp or a phone or whatever.  But the small day to day things: the chores, the expectations, the bedtimes sometimes, the capabilities….it’s easy to hold them back.

I guess I’m saying that sometimes I might short shrift my kids.  I underestimate their growing up.  Or, I want to close my eyes to it.  But, eventually, the teens need to shave, a small boy reeks and MUST wear deodorant, every day, they really can take a bike ride through the neighborhood without me, or walk the dog alone.  The older son(s) really can take trips on their own steam and dime (yay for that one) and be safe and have the time of their lives.  They really have the judgement to make their own decisions about the big stuff.  The high schoolers do too, on more than it seems.  Or they will fast if I remove the the unwanted safety net of checking on grades and work and whatnot.  Frankly, no matter what I want in some of these realms, those decisions and actions are out of my control anyhow.  They are theirs.  Not mine.

I do them no favors by holding them back or trying.  I must, and want to, let them grow up. Now, I believe in sheltering them when small from  some of the hardness in this world. But my scope there is more limited than I wish and better they learn it from us, with guidance, before they learn it wrong, potentially, from someone else.  With some of my kids, in a multiracial family, some  of those lessons must come sooner than I wish as well.  I have to let them, help them, grow up with wisdom and courage and strength. But to over-manage them, especially after their capabilities are ready for the challenge, does them a disservice.  As a control freak, that is a trap that I can easily step into to, and scowl at the misery that ensues.

So, I guess this post is a reminder to me that my kids will be better and stronger if I let them grow up, into the people they were made to be, rather than clinging to the small youth that they were.  Because they are not, anymore. Even the baby, he is five now.  Sure, a little boy.  But, he too, is growing fast.  And while I am pretty sure that I will always, always, cry at any goodbye…..I hope to embrace and cheer the markers and milestones with less pangs.

To see the change as another layer to the remarkable person this child, that child, is growing into.  No loss.  All gain.  More and more.

6 thoughts on “Let them grow

  1. My son is 14 and I struggle with this everyday. I know I haven’t done him any favors in my attempt to protect him from the big bad world. I don’t think I’m a true helicopter parent, but I can see how easy it is to become one. That love is just so powerful. Thank you for writing this as a reminder.

    • Sue, I get it, especially in those choppy teen years of push/pull independence. We DON”T want to be helicopter parents, nor absentee, it’s the balance ….always that balance. But, what I’ve found and need to always remember is that the COOLEST thing about these teens is that they are usually just waiting for the chance to prove themselves as capable and they are up for the CHALLENGE to RISE above the mediocre standard that is the accepted norm in our culture today. They can rise above and beyond if only given the chance. And what I couldnt’ really put into words is the expansion of that love, too, as we watch our kids soar. It’s awesome.

  2. Oh my…I am feeling some of the same things. My oldest graduated from college and is choosing to live and work in VA…which is just grand except we live in WA! It is hard but good to watch/let our children grow and make adult decisions when we still feel like they are 10.

    • Laura, I get it. But it’s also so great to marvel at the young adults they have become! I bet your son is doing great! Congratulations on the success of helping his launch!

  3. i am so thankful to still have small 5 and 7 year olds. however, it seems every single day they need me less and less (where was this sentiment when i was up every 1.5 hours nursing for years?). all i can say to help me (and i have not worn your well broken in marathon shoes….that’s me being envious), is…in the end i don’t think age matters (kids that is). who amongst doesn’t still need their parents? how many blooming times have i called my dad to “fix” something bc my husband is just too busy. just today i called my mom, who is far away in arizona. why? why? bc i have to make four vats of chili and i 1, needed her to talk me off the bridge (mental bridge). 2, find out how many days i can make it in advance to still be good. 3, do i double batch it or go single? 4, can i borrow her pans? 5, oops i need her crock pots too. 6, oh and um, may i please “borrow/steal” the special chili mix i know is calling my name in her pantry? 7. i just need to gripe about making 4 things of chili. 8. her thoughts on doing the meat first or just do it all together. 9. go over the recipe (her dad’s) for the 1,142 time to make sure i am spot on. 10. what kind of beans again? 11. can i use your fridge to store it? 12. type up the recipe and send to her for approval bc i have to send it to other mom’s. 13. roll my eyes and call yet again to say, “thanks mom”. that’s all she got, “thanks mom”…what that means is, i need you, i love you, you never fail me (never ever), you’re a rock, please leave arizona and come back (bc i secretly know she’d cook all the chili if i didn’t stop her). so that, is my fall back, they’re growing, but they will always need me, and i will never fail them. you are a rockstar mom, your kids know it, i hope you do!


    • Tracy, you rockstar yourself, you made me laugh out loud! And fwiw, I can help you with the chili if you need it. I’m closer! Next, bless you. I don’t know about rockstar…but I do know that those little moments of the mundane are worth seeing as they change….they can do more, know more, be more than I sometimes realize. And when I do, I’m not bemoaning it at all. When I realize the goodness in it, it’s a happy surprise and a moment out of time. I can see the arc…not just another request that I used to need to deny or redirect. I can say “Ok. Do it.” and smile. But I have to keep reminding myself that as much as some days (not ALL days) I might like to freeze them in time…it’s oh so best not to.

      Thanks for the vote and thans for the laugh! Call me if you want a hand! Love M


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