The art of letting go

I’ve been preparing myself mentally for several months now. I was feeling pretty zen. I’ll even go so far as to say that I was feeling proud of myself. Until the day finally arrived.

Before I begin, I should tell you that I’m a very involved mom when it comes to my kids’ lives and activities. When they were at primary school, I rarely missed a school outing and I put in too many volunteer hours to count – all by choice, you understand, because I wanted to be involved. In truth, I liked the fact that during these times, I could see my kids in their school environment. Emma and Philippe also spent their summers with me. I wanted to balance work and family life as best I could.

So, when my eldest, Emma, told me last fall that she had been selected to go on a trip to the United States in April (this month) to take part in a leadership camp, despite her excitement and joy, I also felt a little bit blindsided. I panicked. It was a totally new situation for me and I felt a little shaken. It was one thing for her to sleep over at a friend’s or with family, but six days away from home, in the US? Yikes.

But after talking it over with Emma, Pierre, and Emma’s teacher, it was clear that this was an opportunity not to be missed.

Which was when I realized that I’d have the chance to learn an important life lesson in the coming months: how to let go. Really let go.

I’ve always known that I would have kids, but in my mind’s eye, they were always little – babies and toddlers. It’s as if, in my thoughts as a young girl, a teenager, even in my early twenties, I’d somehow blocked out the fact one day, these babies, these little ones, would become teenagers, young adults and eventually fully-fledged adults themselves.

I don’t regret my choice to become a mother for a second, but as the years have passed I’ve realized that our role as parents is a lot more than just as teachers and protectors for our children. We must also, ourselves, grow through the process to become good examples for them. Ironically, they also help us to grow, learn about ourselves, and become better people.

Today, I’m finding this growth challenging.

When I woke Emma up at 4 this morning (we had to be at school by 4:30), I made a conscious decision to be excited, happy and cheerful. I wanted to support her in this wonderful adventure she was about to embark on. I wanted, with all my heart, for her to know how proud I am of her, and that no matter what life throws at us, I will be there to support, love and encourage her. Even at 4 AM. ;-)

At home, the nickname I’ve given myself (and which makes my kids laugh) is Mama Bear. I feel like I’m missing a bear cub right now. When I left the school after dropping Emma off, I instantly felt a huge void, like I was missing a part of me. I drove home in silence and the further I got from the school, the more I felt this void.

I know I’m just experiencing a step in the parenting process, the one where we have to learn, as our kids approach adolescence, to give our kids more freedom and let our little fledglings not only fly on their own, but fly further and higher.

I’m just finding it tough.

Imagine, it’s only been a few hours since she left and I miss her already. I’m crying as I write this.

I love her so much.

Despite the challenges that the next few days without her will bring, I can console myself with the fact that at least I managed to let her go. It was the right decision. It would have been so easy to think of any number of reasons to say no. As a parent, I made the right choice (yay!).

I didn’t listen to my ego or my fears.

And that, well, that’s the first lesson in the art of letting go.

Sigh of relief: there’s hope for me yet!

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