Letting go

How do we learn to give our children up to the care of the Great Spirit? When they’re born, we know we have to let them go eventually, but we might not realize we have to start doing it sooner than we expected. The first day of preschool, a babysitter/daycare situation, and later, sleepovers that result in a midnight call to pick them up.

How do we relinquish our hopes and expectations for them? What I wanted when I was in high school was a school like the one portrayed in the TV show “Fame”.  When we started discussing where my 14 year old would go for high school, I wanted him to go to the local arts and leadership school.  Much to my dismay, he wanted to do sports, which that school didn’t offer, so my dreams of living vicariously through him were dashed, and I had to let go, again.

As time goes on they grow further and further from the Island of Mom.  Pushing off from the shoreline for a trip to a neighboring island and graduating to day trips, then out for days at a time. My teenager just got back from a five-day river trip.  I had gotten used to texting him during the day, and just the loss of that small bit of connection made me weep, I’m not sorry to say, more than once. Even the days that he spends with his Dad, every other weekend, are opportunities for me to let go. ( I wrote more about that here)

My children rise, I imagine, of their own accord, up toward their own fate, their own path – the one we can’t walk with them. We aren’t privy to where that path will take them.  We can provide access to tools and strategies, as far as our own capacities will allow, but the path itself, is a matter between them and their God.

How do we let them go with grace? Most of us were never taught these skills, although there have been other generations that valued that connection with their children and ultimate letting go enough to learn to do it well.

Where is the best place to learn this letting go, now in this day and age? Who do we even talk to about it?  I know I’ve shed more than one tear over drinks with other moms, but that is commiserating, not learning so much. I don’t know the “best” place to learn these skills, but many people turn to their religion/belief systems, counseling, parenting books, etc. I have engaged with a number of those way, and find that I look to the universal, cosmic even, ways of letting go.  Breathing, noticing how the light moves or doesn’t move in my sons’ eyes, and listening – ever listening.

First, we have to let go of how we were let go.  How we moved into the world, transitioning from youth to adult became our programming. I for one, have had to do a hell of a lot of unlearning to make room for these questions.  And, I’m still unlearning, returning to a Beginners Mind, over and over again. Being reminded of returning to Beginner’s Mind is one of the gifts of Householding.

How do we give our children up to the care of the Great Spirit?  We listen.  Our children are the experts of their own lives, and it is our job to listen to what they say, not only with words, but with their bodies, with their silences.

What I have heard, like a rainstorm I thought would be a virga, but it indeed reached the parched ground of my listening ears, is my sons telling me, sometimes cryptically, sometimes point blank, how to let them go. This teacher becomes the student, over and over again.

 

Painting by A.N. Schuller, 1994

Beginner’s Mind, A.N. Schuller, 1994

 

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5 Comments on “Letting go”

  1. Mary says:

    Have you ever participated in a Ropes Course? During my first experience at one, there was an element where you were tightroping across an abyss with hand-holds created by ropes dangling down from a high wire from above. The hand-hold ropes were positioned in a way that made you have to let go of one to reach the next, no matter how hard you stretched. One of my insightful instructors introduced this element by saying: This is an element that forces you to experience one of the most difficult challenges in all of life: LETTING GO!” It was impactful. This is a huge subject. Love your writing, your honesty. I remember that painting!

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    • Hi Mary, Thank you for commenting! I thought you might remember that painting. I haven’t done a ropes course, but I imagine that type of letting go, is similar to letting go as a parent.

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  2. Absolutely stunning, especially this line: First, we have to let go of how we were let go. I drove my beloved son to the shuttle to Sky Harbor this morning. He flies to see his dad and sister, then back home to Japan. He is a grown man, but each time he leaves, I practice the balance between letting myself feel how sad I am and not letting him know more than a little of that. So, we joke about my cats and say, “See you next year.” I wave goodbye and later, I play twenty games of computer Scrabble.

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