This time of year makes me so nostalgic. Summer turns into fall, school starts, and it’s the time of year that you find yourself letting go of your baby. Depending on your age and your situation in life, the circumstances will vary, but you will find yourself letting go of the most important thing in your life (and it doesn’t matter if it’s your first, your third, or your tenth child; it feels the same way each and every time).
When your baby turns into a toddler and starts exploring the world around her, you have to let her do it. You have to not only let her do it, but encourage her to move away from you, to move toward other people and other things in order to learn about her world. You have to trust other people with the most important thing in your life.
If you have a child starting school for the first time, you find yourself letting go of your baby. You have to share him with the world, let other people into his life and you will realize that their actions will have an impact on your child. Your job of being their only influence is over.
If you have a child starting high school, you have to let go of your baby…again. This time, she really is going to be an independent person in her own right and you have to let her express herself while still being the main influence in her life. Just don’t let her know it! Be there, be responsible, be supportive and helpful, but let her go…to learn about herself and grow.
If your baby is starting college, you don’t have to just let go; you’re actually going to lose a part of yourself. Up until now, you’ve been able to fool yourself that your child is still all YOURS, that you are the most important factor in their life and that you make a difference. You can actually believe this up until the 2nd time they’ve come back home for the weekend and they choose to leave again to go back to school instead of staying home with you forever. That’s when the realization strikes that your baby is truly gone!
Oh, they’ll call you for money and food and advice and help (and money), but it’s not the same. It will never be the same again. Your baby is now an adult and responsible for their decisions, their actions, and ultimately, how the rest of their life is going to turn out. It’s at this point in their life during these few years when you realize that the job you’ve spent what seems like your entire life doing is no longer necessary. This realization should make you very happy, but it doesn’t (yet).
What is the lesson in this series of events? There are a few: you cannot change the fact that your baby will not be your baby forever, so make the very most of the time that you have with them. Love them, enjoy them, guide them and prepare them to be the responsible adult that they deserve to be. These times go by quickly so don’t waste them. Spend the time and the energy to do it right. Teach them what you need to teach them; raise them to be the people you want them to be. Laugh, spend time together, and get to really know and appreciate them. Love them and genuinely respect them for who they are. If you’ve done all that, you will never really have to let go…they will always come home. You will always be an important part of their life and they will always be an important part of yours, but by choice. What more could a parent ever want?
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