An upside to saying goodbye?

What’s the hardest stage of parenting? Ask any mom of a new born, toddler or teen and they’ll likely say, respectively – new born, toddler and teen. In my mind, it’s the letting go.

Letting go at any stage. You have to do it so many times. So. Many. Times.

It starts with the first time you leave your little one with a sitter. Then the first day of school. First sleepover, camp, university.

University. Now that’s a tough one. Saying goodbye to your college-bound kid is hard. No two ways about it. I think it’s especially tough because, if you think about it, this is their first step towards adulthood. I know that might be a bit of a leap, to think of him as an adult, but it is coming. And adulthood is a whole new beginning.

It’s the beginning of the rest of his life – starting a career, moving away, marriage, house buying, children. A whole life separate from yours. It hasn’t happened… yet, but it’s coming. And you know what? It’s exciting and scary, for him and for you. Sure it’s an adventure. One great big, wild, rollercoaster of an adventure.

And you know what else? It’s okay to miss him. It really is. Letting go is part of being a parent, absolutely. It doesn’t mean you have to like it. Nope. Not one bit. You just have to do it. Maybe we could adapt the Nike slogan? Just let go.

Just let go. Easier said than done, I know. Here are some thoughts that may help.

About to be college freshmen are like middle schoolers. They’ve spent years working their way up the junior school playground totem pole and they are about to cross the line into a world where they are at the bottom of the pole, again. My guess is that they have some mixed feelings goin’ on, too. Remember it’s a growing experience for both of you.

You’ve done what you can. You’ve been a great mom. You’ve grown him up as best as you possibly could.

It’s your turn now. How about turning a little attention on yourself? Focus on you. What have you shoved to the back burner for the last 18 or 20 years? Start a new hobby or dust off an old one. Always wanted to start a small business? Got some courses you want to finish up? Have a good friend you haven’t seen in a long while? You go, Girl!

It’s time for you.

Hm, this could be fun, no? Maybe not so tough after all?… Nope. Still tough, but there’s an upside in there somewhere. I know you’ll find it.

Where are you at in the letting go cycle? Who are you going to be after the kids leaves home? Share your story in the comments below. We’re listening.

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  • Being a parent is bittersweet. Great joy, profound sorrow, but they always come home – until the day they don’t, when adulthood has arrived, when they are finally launched.

    The rush of their return, for supper, or holidays, is exhilarating. Then the door closes as they go into a world we cannot enter. That’s the irony. If we did our job properly, they have lives of their own, friends of their own in a world that is too new for parents to really navigate.

    When we meet, hugs are long and rich, and full of excitement. When we part, deep hugs tinged with a rush of separation anxiety. Not for them, we hope. Just for us. We’ll keep the home fires burning. We’ll work toward self-discovery. We’ll take out the photo albums to laugh, then cry, as we remember. Limitless love wraps our children. Don’t show the bitter part. Parade the sweet.

    if we have succeeded in our mission in child-rearing, they will be unaware that they are missed so deeply. They will embrace each day, knowing we are there for them, their safety net if all goes awry in their world.

    Of course, if they don’t call for money, we worry. When they do, we don’t worry quite as much because that means they still need us as part of their universe. 😉

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