It’s Okay To Let Go Of The Kids

I had the privilege of spending yesterday visiting my boys at their places. By the end of the day, I had come to realize a great many things for which I am truly and utterly grateful. And a few things I need to file into the ‘Nailed It’ category.

Both of my sons, now aged 22 and 21, have had a very rough year. Though they travel in very different circles, have very different abilities, and are at very different stages in their life journeys, each was faced with a serious and major turning point in their young lives. Both are still adjusting to their new circumstances without Dad. Becoming men themselves, both have been denied the greatest single influence and support to their success. At a time when they both need Dad more than ever, they are having to learn to rely on themselves and trust that they already know what they need to know. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.

I have watched them both struggle, in their own ways, making mistakes, backtracking, making little steps in the right direction, and falling down again. Always, I have been ready with the safety net. But mostly I’ve had to stand back and let them go. And wait. And hope. And trust.

Over the past few months, each of my sons has met a crossroads. Both were faced with choices that could have had devastating and permanent repercussions. Both were forced to balance emotion with logic. Both have found themselves fighting for their futures. It’s been unbearable to have to watch.

In the past few weeks, both have pushed me out completely. And I have had to trust that we gave them the skills. To believe that they have the heart and the fire to see them through the worst their lives will throw at them. To hope I’ve been able to give them enough.

Going into yesterday, I was unsure. Worried even. When last I spoke to either of them, each was facing a decision, choosing a new path. Both were considering options that hadn’t even breathed their first breath just days ago. I had no idea what to expect. I pulled out of the driveway knowing that, good or bad, things were going to look quite different when I got back.

Twelve hours later, I sat in the van, parked, radio still on, and broke down. Somewhere along the way, we had got things right. Somehow, we have raised two boys – two incredibly different children – into two responsible and independent young men.

I spent my morning yesterday with one son who took charge of his own life, despite my desperate attempts to slow him down fearing he was not quite ready. Yet he was easily able to convince me that I was wrong. He is well. And safe. And happy.

My afternoon took me out to catch up with his brother, who had shut me out as he wrestled with a complete change of direction. As I sat listening to his plan, I couldn’t help but realize that his path had led him to exactly where he needs to be right now. And looking down the road with him is very exciting.

So I sat in the van, feeling the gratitude. And the hope. And marvelling that both of my sons have chosen their own way. Both have chosen independence. Both are confident and compassionate and strong. They are so different. And yet, in all the ways that matter most, they are exactly the same. I couldn’t be more proud to be their mom.

As for all my doubt and worry – I’m entitled. Only hindsight can spout cliches about everything happening for a reason and working out in the end. I don’t care how much faith you have; sometimes things don’t work out. Happy endings are not guaranteed. But I do know how to recognize one when I see it.

And yesterday, though not an ending but two incredible new beginnings, will be filed in the ‘Things I Can’t Express Enough Gratitude For’ drawer. Part earned. Part lucky. And all appreciated.

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