I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly clingy parent. I’ve happily let my kids go to play at other people’s homes and have sleepovers from a fairly young age (hey, I’ve even encouraged them – the peacefulness when we have a break from each other can be so lovely!)
But every now and again, I feel a slight pain. A twinge, seeing my kids growing up. While I remain (in the main) very proud of them, it reminds me that they won’t be here with us for ever. And, in fact, progressively, they are learning, and becoming independent. And, of course, we’re not expecting a complete separation, but with adult children in the future, the relationship will, and should be, very different. Sometimes I feel relief at the thought (or even disbelief, on those days when I feel like a broken record, repeating the same messages which don’t seem to register. Grrr). But at other times I feel the – not pain, not that dramatic – but, maybe loss, mixed with joy – as I feel them shifting slightly away from me. As they grow up and, in part, away. As they should.
That’s the case this week, as my boy’s on school camp for five days. That’s the longest he’s been away, and the first time he’s been away in a different state to us. He’s been on camps before, but for some reason, this time, I’ve been feeling a little unsteady with him away.
It’s wonderful and weird and a little lonely and I feel happy and also miss him (and it’s only been a day so far!) I feel like, as much as camps are designed for to challenge and enrich the kids, the kids aren’t the only ones who benefit. Camps, as one example, are also opportunities for parents to get used to letting go, just that little bit more each time. Loosening the connections, just a bit.
I heard a quote the other week:
‘Life is a balance between holding on and letting go’.
I felt like this quote could be written specifically for us parents!
We need to know when to support, assist, and, sometimes (often?) cajole our kids, and when to leave them to explore, to maybe slip, but to find their own way. We need to be there to comfort them, while not stifling them. And we need to learn to become comfortable about this shifting role, back and forth, which evolve and change as our kids move into different stages of life. There’s lots of growing for us too.
My son’s only away for a few days. It’s fine. More than fine, really. I’m enjoying the chance, even with the slight discomfort, to let him go. But I’m also really looking forward to holding him tightly, wrapping him in a big hug, when he returns.
What many mothers have taught me about holding on and letting go (see here)