Why does “letting your kids go” seem so painful and yet so right?
As I write this post, a book sits on my desk, it’s title reminding me of what I’m going through right now: Hold me close, Let me go, by Adair Lara.
On August 3rd, I shall be childless for the first time in twenty-two years. My sixteen-year-old, decided to attend NMMI (New Mexico Military Institute.)
Jordan is my youngest son and I have to let him do this. I’m scared to let him go, however, these are purely selfish reasons. He’s excited about changing schools and looks forward to the challenging environment he shall be facing.
A shaved head, no cell phone, no personal laptop, strict hours, uniform, clean rooms, two hours of study hall per night, leadership training, sports, half an hour of free-time, and he’s excited. It was his choice, and with the school system changing, (unfortunately for the worse in California, due to a bankrupt state,) I think he will get more attention and a better education at NMMI. We’ve already received a letter from his education counselor asking us to keep in touch with all his teachers. They are all available for forty-five minutes every morning before school starts.
As I look at the role of parents I ask myself the following:
- What is our goal?
- How do we measure success?
- Is there a specific time when parenting ends?
What do you think?
My definition of parenting is:
Parenting is like balancing on a tightrope: it requires constant adjustments, even when your child is no longer a child, but a parent like you.
Bye, Jordan. I love you and wish you all the best in your new life away from home.
Melissa Adams says
Lovely…and bittersweet. Hope to see you at SCWA when I return to SoCal for the winter. I bought an apartment here in Amsterdam & am looking forward to becoming a permanent resident next spring.
Susan Matthewson says
Oh, Sonia, I feel for you. But you know we all have to let them go. And as much as it hurts us to let them go, it hurts them more if we can't let go. When my son left for college on the East Coast, it was such a wrench, so far away from California. Then after graduating college, he went to the Peace Corps for two years and I thought i couldn't stand (there were no cell phones then) not being able to talk to him except on rare occasions. But college on the East Coast and two years in the Peace Corps were the best thing that ever happened to him. He said he learned more about people, about life, about who he was and who he wanted to be and he thanked his dad and me for having the courage to let him go. So give him a big hug and a big smile to send him off and then go lay down on your pillow and cry for awhile.
Sonia, it's a difficult thing, letting go.
I'm preparing for the day when Paul
pulls up stakes again–heading back
to CA, no doubt.
I supported his decision
the first time he left, though my heart was
You never let go emotionally-your kids
will always be in your heart.
Thinking about you and Duke…
My dad always insisted on saying, "So long" in place of goodbye. The phrase so long, according to him, implied that you will see that person again–perhaps even soon. While goodbye is more finite. A silly tradition in my home perhaps, but one that made us feel better when parting. 🙂
No easy gig being a parent. And as you suggest in your post, does not get a ton easier, even when our kids become parents.
Thanks for visiting my blog.
Miss Footloose says
Someone once asked my husband and me if we didn't feel devastated when our older daughter went away to college. She was quite adamant that we should admit to suffering greatly.
My husband looked at her calmly and said: No. We worked towards her leaving for 18 years. We miss her, but we are not heartbroken.
It is not easy, but letting go is part of the parenting job. I am very happy to see my daughters independent and successful.
Very moving, Sonya. Reminds me of the famous quote from Kahlil Gibran, "Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you . . ." Sweet Honey in the Rock sings this so sweetly you have to cry. I also recommend going to see Toy Story 3 with your son. I went with our four children yesterday, and we all enjoyed it. I also blogged about it. We are both mothers before almost anything else.
Its bittersweet, sad and exciting all at the same time. I'll be interested to hear about his time there, such a brave thing to do!
"So painful and yet so right"…you have summed it up well in those words. When they embark on the journey for which we have done our best to prepare them we should rejoice, even though there is a longing in our heart for the children they were.
I agree with Brenda. He´s very brave. And I think wise beyond his years. I´m sure he will do great and would love to hear more about it.
I feel for you. It will be hard to have the empty house, but I do hope you enjoy this new time in your life!
I look forward to catching up with your adventures.
Your son sounds like he's done some wonderful things already. I would love to work for the Peace Corps too. I hear they want older people now. Thanks for your encouragement. Are you still in NY? How's the writing?
Funny how our kids will end up in different places.
I should use that term, "So long." It does sound better than goodbye. Thanks for your visit. So long.
Sound advice. I think it's because Jordan is 16, and I feel like I'm getting two years less than planned. But I want him to be happy.
I have not seen Toy Story 3. I feel like it now. Thanks Shirley.
I shall not know how he is for a month. Hopefully afterwards, I shall receive good news.
I know you've been through this, as have so many moms. Thanks for your kind words.
Thanks. I do need to focus on my husband and me now.
Gibran on children came to my mind as well. Great thought from a contemporary Chrsitian mystic.
If you're going to give your children "roots" and "wings" — resources for living and courage to live — you will have succeeded.
And our thirtysomething children (going on fortysomething — which I can hardly believe!) are still our children, and always will be!
Good luck to your son!
As for parenting, in a way it never ends, no matter how old the parents or the children are.
Parenting – never ending…but it changes with age.
My mother is not the same she used to be when I was young.
It's the same with every generation.
I have never had need to 'own' anybody. Not my children or my husband.
But it was sad for two days after my youngest moved out. But after that I started to enjoy my 'free' life. 🙂
Wow. I am having a hard time with mine going to college and you are having to let a 16 year old go. You have such a great attitude and we could all learn from you.
Hi Sonia. I just popped over from My Reading Corner. I'll definitely be back, since your blog looks awesome! I don't have time right now because I'm trying to get out the door and off to a writers coffee and critique. Just one more blog….just one more blog… 😀
Both of you are so very courageous. I wish the best for your son. I've seen insitutions like this make a kid do a 180! I've been told if they are happy on their own, then we have done a good job preparing them.
BTW, does this place take girls?
Sonia I know this is hard, especially since he's only 16. But some kids are more mature at 16 than others at 20… celebrate that.
My mother in law had a great saying, 'You raise your children for someone else'. So true!
My sons grew up to be wonderful adults, but there were plenty of pitfalls along the way. I believe if our intentions are based in love, the end result will be positive.
All the best!
Robert the Skeptic says
Rather than view it as "letting go" you should see it as an evolution in your relationship with your children. I loved mine as little kids, they frustrated me as adolescents, but now I have an outstanding relationship with them as adults.
And when they have kids of their own, then a whole new dynamic enters the picture. We do find ourselves wanting to interject a little friendly "advice" but we bite our tongues so long as no harm is being done. They have a right to find their own way; we may have done our child-raising differently, but it may or may not have been better.
You have little "loss" to mourn, it is instead all a continuum of change. There are interesting times ahead. And remember, no matter how old they get, they will always be your children.