Parenting, an Exercise in Letting go

Words on Wednesday

A couple of years ago there was this little movie released by a small independent company. You may have heard of it …

Okay, clearly I’m kidding about the small movie!

It had a big impact in this house – three Princess wannabes and all – and the reverberations are still being felt. Not only do my littlest princesses break out in spontaneous renditions of ‘Let It Go’, their favourite Lego games involve Anna and Kristoff saving Elsa, and a stuffed Olaf is a regular bedtime companion for my youngest. It’s here to stay!

And the phrase “let it go” is now a part of our everyday vernacular.

Don’t like the clutter in your house? … Let it go!

Nose out of joint because little Johnny was picked for the team over your little Jimmy? … Let it go!

Your partner didn’t put his dirty breakfast dishes into the dishwasher (even though you’ve asked him to every day since you got married)? … Let it go!

It works for so many things. Even when it comes to parenting.

First we are given this tiny human being to care for and we hold on as tightly as possible. Quite naturally too! They need us for everything! But slowly we start the process of letting them go. And we don’t even realize what’s happening at first!

They need to learn to walk on their own – totally natural – so we let go of their hands, pick them up when they fall, and … yep, let them go again.

They need to learn to eat on their own so we let go of the spoon and allow them to feed themselves. Then sweep the floor after every meal and think how cute they looked spooning their macaroni! Our chests swell with pride at how brilliant our children are. Look, they can feed themselves!

Just another thing they don’t need us for, right?

Then it’s bigger steps, like preschool, and kindergarten. I was never one of those tearful Moms at the school door who just couldn’t seem to let her child go into the classroom. I was more than happy to let go!

Please, for the love of God, GO TO SCHOOL!

Six hours without the constant pestering is heaven on earth for any Mom!

But the higher the grade, the older the kid, the less they need us and the more we have to let go.

Why am I talking about this today? In two days my eldest turns 12. Not a big deal for some maybe, but for me twelve seems so much older than eleven. We promised she could get her ears pierced at twelve. Yikes! That is the start down the very slippery slope to make up, taking the bus into town to go ‘hang out at the mall’ with her friends, and boy/girl dances.


She is though! Boy is she ever!

She didn’t want me to make her party invitations this year.

What?! But that’s what I do!!

Let it go!

She didn’t want me to bake a cake – instead she wanted an ice cream cake.

Let it go!

She came to me with a party plan – food, entertainment, shopping list, the works – all without my help.

Let it go!

I love that she is so independent and responsible. She can take care of her sisters so my husband and I can do that thing called “dating”. I know, weird, right? She can cook Kraft dinner, scrambled eggs, pancakes, and all sorts of other things. She can do her own laundry – if she decides the maid (a.k.a. her parents) aren’t getting to it fast enough. She knows the value of money, has earned a little bit of her own with some babysitting jobs, and is generous almost to a fault with her friends.

All that letting go my husband and I have been doing for the past twelve years is paying off.

So why am I having a tough time with it all of a sudden?

I think I am starting to see what an amazing young woman she will be, and know that right at the time when she is figuring that out for herself, is when I will truly have to let her go. Into the big wide world! Off to university, or to backpack around Europe, or to an apartment and a job in the city. Not that she can afford to do that in our city which means she’ll move to another city somewhere I’m not! And then she’ll meet some young man who will never be good enough for her, but to whom I will have to let her go forever!

Okay, I may be getting ahead of myself. She is still young enough to enjoy building blanket forts in the family room and cuddling on the couch to watch TV after all. Those apron strings aren’t severed yet, only starting to get pulled out of my hands. And that’s okay. Some space to explore is good. It’s what our jobs are as parents. To give them a bit a slack so they can roam free, but always make sure we can grab the line if they need to be pulled back from the edge.

What’s that saying? “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back it’s yours, if it doesn’t come back, it was never yours to begin with.” Works for me! She just damn well better come back!! 🙂

As hard as it can sometimes be to let her go, that’s just what I will continue to do. Because I know that I am helping her to learn, to mature, to spread her wings and fly. Just like a mama bird pushes her babies out of the nest to teach them to fly, I will push ALL my girls to be the best they can be. To learn to DO, and BE. To learn to LIVE, LOVE, and LAUGH with every fibre of their being. To GROW tall and proud, knowing I’ve got their back! Always and forever!

But for right now, I’m the Mom so you’d better do what I say kiddo or you will be in a world of hurt!!

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