Learning to Let Go

Sometimes being a good mom means holding back. It means not jumping (or running on the field) every time your child falls. It means teaching your child to speak up for him or herself. It means slowly trusting and learning to let go.

In the beginning it’s easy (even if you don’t know it at the time). You know what your baby is eating. How many ounces are being consumed. How many BMs he or she is passing. You know the sleep schedule. You have all the information needed to make decisions. You, for the most part, are in charge and in control. Even if your child is in daycare, you usually know what is happening if you have a quality provider that you trust. There is a routine and you can ask about every detail if you so choose.

Then your child gets a little older and he starts school. All of a sudden you can’t control what he is eating. No one is there to report back whether your child threw out his sandwich and only ate crackers for lunch. You don’t really know what the dynamics are like on the playground. Is your child being left out? Is your child being a good friend? How about on the school bus? Every time you place your child on that bus, you try to imagine a happy, peaceful, smooth ride without gossip or name calling or accidents of any kind.

As your child enters high school, you realize how much, or rather I should say how little, you know about what is happening outside your reach. You hope and pray that you have said all the right things. That you have instilled the right values. That your child knows he can come to you. You are no longer worrying about how often your child is using the bathroom or whether or not he remembered to wear a warm enough jacket (although you never fully stop thinking about these things).

Being a parent is scary and difficult because once you think you have mastered an age or stage, your child changes. They stop wanting to play with cars or Elmo or superheroes or baby dolls. They stop holding your hand in public. They decide that after five years of loving bananas that this is now a gross fruit. They can have a best friend for years, only to stop talking to them and hanging out. You ask repeatedly why, but never get a clear answer. There is so much you can not control. There is so much you won’t understand, no matter how hard you try.

So, you learn to let go a little more and try to keep the faith. You put your trust in your child’s teachers, bus drivers, coaches, doctors, friends, etc, but you keep your eyes open. You never look away completely. You learn to trust your child. The one you raised. The one you rocked and obsessed about how many times he woke up in the middle of the night. The one you thought would never use the potty or eat broccoli or give up the pacifier or put on his own shoes.

And then you miss those days. You long for that baby. You forget the battles and only remember the open-mouthed slobbery kisses and the way his warm little body fit perfectly next to yours.

The relationship changes, but the love, the worry and the need to keep them safe never does because you learn to let go, but never all the way.

About 

Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger and business owner who lives in the suburbs outside Washington, DC with her husband and four children. She started her career as a journalist and copy editor. She also managed public relations and corporate communications for a national franchise company, but in 2006 started a child care business. In 2012, she launched Tiny Steps Mommy, a lifestyle and parenting blog that quickly gained a following and connected her to an expansive group of women-owned businesses. In 2013, she started a digital marketing consulting business that focused on growing community in an authentic way. Through those connections she was inspired to open Play, Work or Dash, a coworking space that also offers onsite childcare up to three hours per day. It is where like-minded professionals pursue their business goals with the extra level of support parents desire; a place where you "bring your kids to work." She is an active member of the Washington, DC blogger community. She has been published on The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode and Pop Sugar.

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. Nicole – I love this. My 18mo just started day care, and I have to battle him every day to get him dressed, get him to wear a coat, and get him out the door. But after I leave him, I worry about if he’s drinking enough water and if they’ll be able to get him to sleep. At daycare, at least they have cameras so that I can still feel in control and pop on to see what he’s doing whenever I need to. I can’t imagine sending him off to Kindergarten, much less high school, and the kind of worry that brings! One day at a time, right??

  2. Wow, we must have been thinking similar thoughts, Nicole. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I let go as my son gets older. I love the perspective of taking “little steps” as your child gets older.
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    • Yes, we all know this is what we’re supposed to do, but it is never easy. I know with my youngest I’ve stretched out every stage. I wasn’t in a rush for her to walk, or wean, or potty train, which she is doing now although I’m really half hearted about it. The thing is we can never stop it completely. They continue to grow and change, if we are lucky.
      Nicole Dash recently posted…Learning to Let GoMy Profile

  3. Blanca Alvarado says:

    My daughters are grown up, but I still worry about their health, and general well being because more than anything, I want them to be happy. Your children are your children for the rest of your life. You’ll just worry and pray from a distance.

  4. Such a great reminder…it is very difficult to transition with your children through the various stages…and yes, even when they are adults – they are always our children…my mom still wants to know where I am going, who I will be with, and when I am expected back home…when I was a young adult, I found it annoying; now, I appreciate that she still cares…and I recognize why she does that, because it’s what I do too.

    My teen wanted to go out with his football teammates last Saturday for dinner at CiCi’s Pizza. I asked for the driver’s name, address, and license plate number. He was annoyed at first, saying “why do you need all that information?!” but I explained that it’s not me trying to control him or be all in his business, it’s that he is still my child and I need to, at a minimum, know who he is with and be able to provide information to the police should – God forbid – he not come home when he is expected. It’s a difficult balance. I was thinking “I should drive him myself” just to be in control. Lol.
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  5. My oldest is in her last year of middle school. It amazes me to look at her, nearly eye to eye and realize that she does not need me as much as her four-year-old brother. She is able to bathe herself, do her own hair, get herself to and from school on public transportation, make lunch, and perhaps explain every electronic gadget to me prior to even having it in her hands. I thought recently about how soon she’ll be in college, how soon she’ll no longer be in my house, needing me…for anything. It hurts. It is exciting. It is scary. It is inevitable. But the love stays. I will always try to hold on to that.
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