As you all know, my book, All About Motherhood: “A Mom for All Seasons” and Other Essays, makes a perfect present for the moms in your life or for yourself. But here’s one essay I didn’t include in the book, and I’d like to share it now, in time for Mother’s Day. It’s an essay on my own greatest challenge in my role as a mother: letting go.
For me, this is the most difficult aspect of mothering, and it starts on day one. Yes, I had difficulty letting the nurses scoot my newborn off to the nursery for a bath. And I wasn’t real keen on letting others hold him for too long, either. He was my baby, after all. I’d given birth to him, and even though the umbilical cord was no longer in service, for me, it was still there (in my case, x3).
When my kids went off to pre-school, I’d often sit at my desk and cry. This happened again at Kindergarten, high school, and college. The truth is, once I’d given birth, the only time I felt completely and totally whole was when all three of my children were together, in one room, with me watching over them. The lesson of learning to let go has been long and arduous.
Don’t get me wrong: I love and adore being alone. Solitude is one of my very best friends. But for me, solitude is always best when at the end of the day the kids come home.
I’m at the point in my life now, where the “kids” are young men building lives of their own. They come and go, sometimes for a day, a summer, or even longer, but only to leave again, to fly away to places like Qatar, Japan, Mexico, or England to study or work or simply to go home to their own dorm room or apartment. I’m happy for my children, and proud that I’m able to say good-bye without a major meltdown (usually). Nevertheless, my heart breaks a little each time they walk out the door.
This painful lesson of mine--to learn how to love and to let go--has taught me many things. I’ve learned not to judge myself too harshly (after all, my own mother was the same way). I’ve also learned that without the magnitude and weight of this love that I feel for my children, I would not be the mother I am.
So there, I’ve said it. As the cheery Mother’s Day cards and flowers go out, and the mommies gather with their kids to celebrate their special day, I am also reminded of the commitment, heartache, and responsibility that comes with this kind of love. As mothers, our deepest wish and our most fervent prayer is for what’s best for our children. And that’s the very reason why we must learn the lesson of letting go.