Journal Entry #46
A wise woman once told me that the only constant we experience in life as a woman, is that we are constantly in a state of change. And as a mom, we are constantly in a state of change by letting go.
We let go when they leave our womb.
We let go when they leave our breast to take the bottle.
We let go when they take their first steps.
We let go when they go to Daycare, Nursery School, Kindergarten, their first play date and their first birthday party.
We let go when they ride their first bike.
We let go when they have their first sleep over.
We let go when they go away to camp.
We let go when they start driving a car.
We let go when they go on their first date.
We let go when they go off to College or University.
We let go when they travel.
We let go when they get married.
And sometimes in painful moments of loss, when they let go before we do, we have to say goodbye.
We let go.
We let go of a million little things along the way, so that our children can experience life, form their own thoughts, opinions and viewpoints of the world. We let go so that they can put into action the teachings and lessons that we have gifted them. We let go in moments when their pain becomes our pain. We let go in moments when all we want to do is protect them but know in our hearts that we cannot shield them from life. We let go so that they can grow.
We let go.
Sometimes, it is completely counter-intuitive. We want to hang on for dear life. Protect them forever. Be their only lifeline and all that they need. We want to shelter them and keep them away from the big bad wolves of the world.
Last week, as I stood in the parking lot with the other parents as their children left on the canoe trip, I watched as we all let go. Some have practiced the art of letting go, and for some it was a brand new experience. As I stood there, I felt like I was letting 14 of my own children go. And I was reminded of those wise words bestowed upon me some 20 years ago. As a woman, and a mother, we must let them go.
We must trust the foundation that we have given them. Trust that they know right from wrong. Trust that they can make choices that are in alignment with what they know to be true and appropriate for them. Trust that the life experiences that they are choosing are going to shape them in ways that we cannot.
We are not their only teachers in this life.
We must let go, and give them the gift of learning and experiencing life on their own. It is a weird sensation when we let them go, knowing that they are beginning to make memories without us. That they are learning and growing as human beings without us. That there are more influences in this world that they can benefit from beyond the walls of our home and the arms of our families.
This healing process for me, has been chalk full of moments of letting go, in so many different ways. Especially with the kids.
They have always had responsibilities around the house, some that we have been criticized for. “Canyon is too young to cut the grass!” or “They are only 9 and they are walking home from school by themselves?” or “They are kids, just let them play…chores can wait.” – We have heard it all. Both Tim and I had responsibilities around home and the farm when we were children. Chores build character, work ethic and introduce responsibility. These chores and responsibilities are what we feel are age appropriate for the kids, and also aligned with their maturity level.
Our kids have matured greatly over the last 5 months.
And if I am really honest, it has happened on a faster trajectory than we would have liked. Even though I have been house-bound for a few months now, I have not been a contributing member of our household. Tim and the kids have had to pick up all that I have let go. They haven’t been just cutting the grass, doing the dishes, folding their laundry…they have been washing their laundry, weed whipping, pulling weeds in the garden, helping Daddy with grocery shopping, baking, preparing meals, being my hands and feet…and those are just some of the physical pieces to this puzzle.
Where I have let go, they have taken on.
I have overheard them have conversations with each other, supporting each other when they are scared, helping each other with homework, talking and yes, sometimes yelling to get a chore done. I have seen them comfort each other when they are sad, and also use each other as a verbal punching bag when their emotions run wild. We have seen their “attitude” when they have a chore to do but just want to play. And their tears when the responsibility of life is overwhelming. I have heard them ask each other tough questions about what I am going through and heard their thoughts on what they are witnessing and heard them share how scared they were when they found me on the bathroom floor unable to get up and they had to call Daddy on the phone for help.
From the outside looking in, we probably look like a hot mess right now. And that’s okay. We know that when Faith’s attitude is raging, she is likely overtired, feeling scared and lonely…or maybe all three. She is angry. But how can you be angry at microscopic bugs that can’t been seen with the eye? How can you be angry at a situation or a thing that can’t argue back? At eleven, she takes it out on those that can. I get that. But it is also our job to help her find a more appropriate way to manage that anger, so that she doesn’t hurt those that she loves and that love her. The fact is, illness brings these big life lessons on, no matter the age or stage of life we are at. I, myself, struggle with managing my anger over this situation, so it isn’t fair to expect her to manage it either. We are figuring it out together…which means that there are tough parenting moments unfolding.
I mean really tough.
When your daughter says to you“Mommy, ever since you have been sick, you get all the attention…and I don’t get any. Daddy and I haven’t had our weekly dinner date in over 3 months and remember that deal we made this winter where if I stopped biting my nails you would take me to get my nails done? We still haven’t done that. And my Birthday was in April and we still haven’t had my party yet!” your heart breaks.
When all of the people that your children have witnessed undergo Chemotherapy have died, they want to know if Mommy will die too?
It is tough.
When our children feel neglected and lonely, they lash out. They look for the attention in unhealthy ways. They cause drama and scenes and pick unnecessary fights with their siblings and friends. It isn’t because they are bad kids, it is because we are failing them. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not feeling bad about myself as a parent. I wouldn’t have come to this place of understanding and compassion without this lesson.
There are no mistakes, no failures…only lessons.
Our children have had to assume responsibilities and watch suffering in ways that most 11 and 12 year old’s don’t have to. And in doing so, they have had no choice but to grow up faster than we would like. I find myself, on days that are tough parenting, reminding myself that they too are being prepared for something in this life bigger than them, even if we can’t see it yet. And then I do something that every parent struggles to do.
I let go.
Of the guilt, the shame, the embarrassment, the hurt, the disrespect, the blame, the pain, all the would-haves and should-haves…and I just breathe. Because, how can I be available to be all that they need if I am drowning in the shit we are programmed to feel when we fail? We can’t.
Letting go, isn’t just about releasing our children to grow and experience the world around them, it is about us…giving ourselves permission to feel, heal and grow too. We do NOT have to be stuck unless we CHOOSE to be stuck. For me, this piece is important to model for Canyon and Faith and I hope that where I have struggled to do so, they will not.
We are meant to be in a constant state of change and in order to do that, we must let go.
And for us.