Recently, Jack made a comment that has stuck in my head. He said, "Isn't that what parenting is? A series of letting go and loss?" The comment had the effect of stopping me in my tracks. Suddenly I felt my mind expand as the concept grew. First, we let go by bringing them into this world. No longer is it just you and the baby, but the whole world gets to be part of your baby's life. Next they start crawling and walking and no longer stay snuggled in your arms. When school starts, they begin to have friends and experience things during their day that you are not part of. Sure, we are kept informed in the early years, but in reality, they are experiencing things without us. This is the first huge step in separating from us.
Each year in school they continue to grow closer to friends, and less close to us. I think our voices slowly start to fade in their ears as their friends' get louder. Finally comes that day when they drive off in the car, and it hits you smack in the face...the illusion of being in control is no longer in your grasp.
Don't get me wrong. We celebrate each of these steps toward independence, afterall, that is a parent's job. It is amazing to watch this little bundle grow and become a person. As frustrating as it is when their opposition is aimed at you, there is also pride. Pride that you raised a child that is not afraid to voice their opinion.
Then comes the day when you drop them off at the dorm or airport and they fly off. They are now entering a world that will only be available to you when they decide to let you in. No longer is anyone calling you with reports, no longer do you know all their friends, and their doings. All you know is what you glean from facebook, if they friend you, and from what they say when they call or text. It is startling the first time your child's girl/boyfriend says, "Oh, (your child) LOVES okra!" WHAT???? You could never get okra past that child's lips for 19 years!! And now, this person knows your child better than you.
This is just the beginning you realize as you look at your own life. How involved is your mom in your day to day life? How many of your friends does your dad know? If they don't live near you, they know only what they glean from your facebook, if they are on and you friended them, or from your infrequent phone calls.
Like everything in life, there are two sides. Yes, losing my children is hard. Not being the main person in their lives anymore is tough. Not knowing who they are becoming except in glimpses from facebook and phone calls, is depressing. The other side though is glorious. You get to see that kind man that shone out of your son's eyes at 5 years of age. You get to see the brave woman that emanated from your 6 year old daughter's being. You get to give up the role of disciplinarian and become a friend/confidant/encourager/sounding board.
You also get your life back. After spending 20 years sacrificing your own needs for those of your children, you finally get to be selfish once more. You get to take care of yourself. You get to find who you are 20 years older. Hopefully, if your parents are still alive and well, you get to show your appreciation for all they did for you.
Yes, parenting is a long serious of letting go and loss. But the journey is so full of surprises, adventures, and love that I would do it all over again. Plus, I hear grandbabies are the great reward at the end!!!