Parenting is a continual process. Letting go is a continual part of the process. I know that’s not news to anyone. It’s the actual doing it – that’s the difficult part.
It starts early and continues . . . letting go of his fingers so he might take that first step, allowing him to walk into school all by himself, letting him drive to a friend’s house alone, watching him walk into the dorm for his first year of college, and most recently, saying good-bye as he boards a plane for 6 weeks of study in Peru.
When Will was just beginning to take a few steps, I was afraid that he’d fall on the hardwood floors of our home. There was no carpet to break the fall. There might be bruises or crying or pain involved. But the only way Will learned to walk was by us letting go.
The first time that Will walked alone into his kindergarten classroom from the school drop-off line, I called Noah crying. “He just walked into school all by himself.” Up until this point, I held his hand and walked him into school, exactly like I done when he went to preschool or church or Mrs. Peggy’s house. All of a sudden, he could do it alone. He didn’t need me to hold his hand. I could let go.
And then there’s giving him his own keys to a car. He no longer needed me to drive him to school. Yes, to be honest, there were some definite benefits in this letting go. I didn’t have to enter the school parking lot at drop-off or pick-up times.
Then comes the first year of college. Now he just finished year three. How did it happen so fast?
On Friday, the “letting go” took on a whole new dimension. Noah and I had encouraged Will to take the opportunity to study abroad. Visit other cultures. Expand your world view. Meet interesting people. Immerse yourself in another language. It sounded really good in theory but actually putting him on an airplane? Not so much.
Will and I shopped and planned for weeks leading up to the trip. Well, I shopped and planned for weeks. He just went along whenever I said “you have got to try this on” or “you have got to tell me what you need.” I knew I was stuck in my default setting of co-dependency but I couldn’t help myself.
On Thursday before he left, I began to “panic” with thoughts of: “maybe he needs this” or “maybe I should have done that” or . . .
And then I heard this small Voice say: “STOP! You have done all you can do. You can’t control every moment.” It was time to let go.
While leaving the airport on Friday morning, I heard on the radio: “You can trust God or worry. But you can’t do both.” A nice word for 5:30 am. A word that I needed to hear.
Let him go.
I know that there will be other moments of letting go. But I will just take them one at a time. It’s never easy but it’s always part of the process.
P.S. Yes, I will be thrilled to see my little boy on June 19 – bearded face, curly hair and all.