Thursday, August 1, 2013

Letting go and letting them grow up


There I stood at the American Airlines ticket counter, my hair in a disheveled mess, sporting a style otherwise known as “bed head”; wearing my yoga pants, sweat shirt and flip-flops. I hadn’t bothered putting on any make-up; no one would notice me at 8 a.m. anyway. Once I got home I would be going for a late morning run. Hopefully life would go on as usual because I had rolled out of bed that morning with a small knot in my stomach, one that each passing minute had made bigger and bigger, tighter and tighter.
There he stood at 14, almost 6 feet tall, wearing his favorite American Eagle jeans, Sperry shoes and a t-shirt that read “Orphan’s Heart”. In his hand he held a boarding pass and was about to take off on a plane headed to Guatemala – without me.
I want to do this mom, I really want to, he had said.
It was hard to let him go. Is he doing the right thing? Will he get up in time? Will he make it to the bus in time every morning? Will he loose his money, or, heaven forbid, his passport? Will he behave in a way that will make me proud? Will he get hurt, lost, or be afraid? Will he leave something behind? Did he remember his toothbrush? Did he pack enough underwear? Will he yearn to come back home?
My tears stopped at the back of my throat. I could hardly swallow. I was a complete mess.
There I stood at our local “Sprouts” grocery store, all dolled up, having a good hair day. My socks matched my shirt, and so did my ring. They were yellow, in case you were wondering. I was confused and overwhelmed. My cart was filled to the rim with fresh fruits and vegetables. I don’t know how it got so full. Groceries just kept piling in, oranges, grapefruit, apples, pomegranates, bananas, dates, mung beans …what?…black beans, rice, strawberries, blueberries, spinach, celery, lettuce, pineapple, almonds, and cashews- to name a few. My hands were sweating and my heart was aching.
I’m thrilled that he wants to be healthy, but does he have to go this far? Is my cooking not good enough for him anymore? Is what we have provided for him all these years so bad?
I want to be a vegan mom, I really want to, he had said.
It was hard to let him go. Is he doing the right thing? Has he thought this through? Does he understand how much planning this will take? Does he know how expensive his lifestyle will be? Does he know how hungry he will feel all the time? Will he get enough protein? Will he be malnourished? Will he become anemic, weak, or dilapidated? He has no clue. Neither do I.
I walked around in a daze. I was a complete mess.
There I stood in the middle of my kitchen after a long day at work and two trips to the grocery store, cramping so painfully I could hardly keep my legs from giving way underneath me, his precious 12 year old eyes pleading with me to make cookies with him. I had promised. I have no idea what I had on; I have no idea what I looked like. I just knew I needed to get to my bed. After breaking his heart and laying my wary body to rest (I felt like I was going to die), he ran up to my room moments later, “Dad said he would clean up!  Can I make them mom? Can I make them by myself? I know how to do it,” he said.
It was hard to let him loose in my kitchen. What if he breaks my bowl? What if he forgets to add the salt? What if flour spews all over the place? What if the cookies burn? What if he gets burned?
I lay in bed in agony. I was a complete mess.
It is so hard to love. It is even harder to begin to let go of the ones we love.
There comes a time when letting go is the most loving thing to do. It’s when continuing to make choices and do everything for our children becomes more about me than it does about them. It’s a time to let those choices be lessons of consequences, endurance and perseverance. It’s also time for me to let go of blaming myself for every stupid decision they make and taking the credit for every good one.  
Big mistakes happen, and we learn to let them happen as we go to bed at night with our soaked Kleenex tightly clutched in our hand, fervently praying and our hearts moaning with every ounce of our being.
This is when bright, selfless, adult-like choices begin to take place as we beam with so much joy in our hearts we feel like we are going to explode.
As a parent I find that this has become one of the most painful and yet joyful stages yet. It is not just a test of patience and endurance for them, but for me as well. It is teaching me that whether we look like it or not, with disheveled hair or a perfect hair day; whether we feel like it or not, suffering in agonizing pain or going for a 5mile run, the loving grace of the only one to whom they have always belonged to in the first place is the only hope that me and my messy self can count on. My attempts at being the best mother I can be in the midst of my selfishness and inadequacies have always hung onto and will continue to always hang onto the One who knew what he was doing when he entrusted them to me.
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Here is a short update on my stories.


Isaac’s visit to Guatemala was a fabulous, life changing trip. He came home without a scratch, and I hear from his grandfather, who went on this trip with him, that he was an amazing, hard worker and loved member of the team.

Photo credit to Jeanette Williams Lethers

And although he is not a vegan, Isaac is the most healthy, conscientious eater in our home. I’m so proud of his hard work and his discipline in wanting to live a healthy lifestyle.


Elijah’s cookies were perfect! But then again, this was coming from a child that could follow directions from any LEGO kit as early as age 4, so, I honestly wasn’t surprised. We have made cookies dozens of times, and I know he is a quick learner. I’m not sure who was responsible for what; all I know is that after a couple of Advil PM and a good night’s sleep, I woke up like a new person to a clean kitchen.

Are you in the midst of letting go? what are the lessons you are learning along the way?

1 comment:

  1. As you so often do, you struck a chord with me. Yes, letting go is often the most loving thing we can do. Your brother-in-law said something to me about how deep your love extends to your children particularly when they are behaving or making choices that are far outside what you would have made or expected of them. Going through those love pains and letting go right now myself!

    As always, thanks for sharing,