Sunday, February 8, 2015

Letting Go is Bigger Than Farts

You've probably heard the joke that the song, "Let it Go" in the crazy-popular movie, Frozen, is secretly about farts. My kids are just old enough to enjoy that movie and also see the humor in its popularity. That's the fun part about them getting older.

The not-so-fun part: I find it more difficult to know when to take control of a situation and when to provide guidance.

When they were little, I had to do everything to keep them alive. I bathed and dressed them, fed them, took them to the doctor, tucked them in and read to them. Gradually, I had to let them fend for themselves.

Now they're learning to do laundry, make a meal for the family, clean bathrooms, care for pets and manage money. They are balancing those responsibilities with being students and figuring out what they believe is good for them and what isn't.

Of course, their parents' beliefs will rub off on them. How we speak about other people, how we handle frustration, how we manage money and whether or not we practice religion and politics all have their impact. "Do what I say and not what I do." That's absurd.

I've become the guide and the model, and it's painful. One night, my daughter said she didn't need me to tuck her in anymore. A few weeks later, she said I was too critical. Sometimes I swear and throw tantrums and gossip and complain. I do things I have to apologize for later, and that, too, is being a guide.

But when my kids succeed, I hope they'll be excited to tell me about it. If and when they fall down, I hope they'll call me for help. That's the big thing about letting go. You do everything you possibly can to prepare them, but kids eventually have to take control. You're left behind to watch...and pray.

Parenting is forever, but it's different at each stage. We fuss and worry and teach and discipline, hoping all the while we're doing the right things to send another human being into the world who won't mess it up too much — someone who ultimately makes it better.

I'm not ready to let go completely. In parenting years, it's a narrow window between teaching them to walk and teaching them to drive. (Don't let me think about my children driving yet. I'll keep both hands on that wheel for now, thanks.)

Control and letting go, letting go and control. It's a good thing I have a sense of humor.