Letting go of kids

Hand releasing feather at lake

Yesterday I put the final touches to the collection of school photographs I have been adding to each year. For the past fourteen years, the large oval space in the centre of the piece has remained empty. Each year, from Junior Kindergarten onwards, I have added a school photograph to the allocated spot. The photos tell a story of Talia’s progression from a little child into a gorgeous young lady. As I placed her graduation picture in the centre, and snapped the frame back in place, I felt the lump in my throat begin to thicken as I reminisced about all the years that had passed and how soon she would be graduating from high school and beginning her studies towards becoming a graphic designer.

As she begins her final few months in high school, I am struck by how quickly time marches on. I know that she is only steps away from greater independence and that pretty soon I won’t be able to walk past her bedroom to take a peak at her sleeping peacefully.

It’s at a time like this that I am even more grateful of the eight year spread between our two daughters. I luxuriate in the knowledge that our younger daughter has several years before she too will begin to spread her wings and move towards greater independence.

Flicking through the television channels a few years back, I caught a glimpse of Robyn, Dr. Phil’s wife, dabbing away tears and holding the hand of another parent faced with her daughter’s imminent departure away from home to university. The single parent, whose daughter sat next to her, apparently found little pleasure in anything other than mothering. Dr. Phil focused on the mother’s need to be needed by her daughter as a way of defining her self. The daughter, although saddened too, seemed to be ready to take on the challenge of being more independent, both physically and psychologically. The mother, however, was not quite as ready to let go. The relationship between the single mother and her daughter was even closer as a result of having focused on each other exclusively ever since her child was quite young.

I know that I too will miss my children terribly when they leave home. Even though I sometimes crave “me” time when they are pulling at me from different directions, I try to remember that our children are on loan to us for what ultimately seems to be such a short while.

I am reminded of a quote by E. Stone which framed, hangs in our home and reads “Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Letting go is very hard but is sometimes made easier by also reminding ourselves of everything our growing children will learn when living or spending more time away from home. Learning to make decisions on their own, becoming more independent and learning how to fend for themselves are all valuable life lessons.

Ultimately, you can be proud of all the great strides that your child has made and give yourself a pat on the back for having the strength and courage to let go.