Monday, December 30, 2013

Letting Go Is Hard

Last night, I left my daughter with my oldest son and his girlfriend to drive my middle son to his friend's house to spend the night. I hopped in the car and suddenly, out of nowhere, started to tear up. What it was I couldn't name right then. But I knew the feeling. It was the feeling of losing. Of having to let go. Jack is very perceptive and picked up on my mood right away. "You okay mom?"
"Yeah. I don't know. I guess."
"What's wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong, really. I'm just... you guys are just... growing up really fast."
"Oh. Like Connor has his girlfriend over, and I'm going to my friend's...?"
"Yeah. Exactly. Silly, huh?"
"No. I'm still your little boy."
He hugged me then, before jumping out of the car, with all the confidence of a successful adult.
I allowed a few of those tears to fall in the few minutes I spent alone in the car on the way back home.

Letting go is hard.

I remember being sixteen. I had no clue - just no idea whatsoever - that my mom might have been going through growing pains of her own in my growing up and away. I was so very immersed in my own world. A typical, selfish teen, finding her own place, her own way. My friends were my world. Where did she fit?

And today, where do I fit in my boys' respective worlds? I hate to think I'm just the dictator. The homework task master. The rule enforcer. The dinner-maker and clothes washer. I would so much prefer to be the confidant, the friend, the wise woman they might look up to. Hey - check out our mom - ruler of her own universe - business owner, healthy, boot-camping, Insanity-crushing warrior!

Letting go is hard.

And not just as a parent. As a lover. A friend. A partner. Knowing when to let go is painful in itself. Trusting the instinct, even when everything looks great "on paper." When we know in our hearts, from somewhere deep inside maybe we can't even explain - it just "is" - we have to learn to trust that, and know that it's enough. It is enough.

Or when your heart wants so much to hold on, but your head knows. Your head knows that it is time. Beyond time, maybe, to say goodbye. But I digress.

Letting go is hard.

I just finished a beautifully written novel by John Green called "The Fault In Our Stars." How, I still wonder, right in this moment, how did he write that novel? How did he flesh out those characters? How? Because it seems so easy - for him. I am dually touched and tormented by this heart breaking book. Not just because it is sad - which it is. But because it's so honest. It's so real. Yes of course the author Hazel admires is a jack ass. Certifiable. Of course he is. Because only in a cheesy, Harlequinn romance or sappy Danielle Steele book would he be a true keeper of dreams. A hero. It's just not real. Real life hurts.

So does letting go. It hurts. And it is hard.

But if we do it correctly, with love and respect, then maybe the pain will be worth it in the end.
Because I believe that you learn more about a person at the end of a relationship than you ever could at the beginning.

How do you handle the letting go? It can be a painful, angry slice of the wrist. Or it can be agonizing and slow, but beautiful in its own way. It may hurt more to let it happen gradually, to feel the hurt. To understand the reasons and just be okay with it all. But, just as raising our kids, and then watching them slowly, sometimes painfully, learn their own way, we can look back and know we did the right thing. We can't hold on forever, but maybe we don't have to completely let go. There are bound to be stops and starts, bumps in the journey. But it's all a part of the life we're living. And someday we'll look back and smile through our tears and remember it all. The good, the bad, the heartbreak and the joy.

And maybe, just maybe, these children I worry about constantly and love more deeply than I can say will one day look at me and be grateful. And know that deep, crazy love I have for them. And they'll be better for it. Smarter. Successful. Happy.

Letting go is hard.

But maybe it's not forever.


  1. Beth--This is such a sweet post. Yes, letting go is hard, but as long as there is love, it's never for forever...

    What a wonderful gift you got from Jack. You have three fabulous kids--and that's because you have a great mom and dad and YOU are a great mom.

  2. It's not letting's letting them fly on their own. Your children will always be your children. As they grow, they learn the lessons you tried to teach and that took so much out of you. And one day, lo and behold, they are grown ups and you love them even more as you become friends and confidantes. You are doing the right thing:)

    1. Take so much out of me is right - ha! Thanks Mom! XO

  3. Oh, can I ever relate. But right now there's a big kid in my driveway with a shovel who reminds me there's a silver lining to their growing up. Nice post.

  4. I can vouch from experience that the children you let go will be the adults you love even more.