There’s No Turning Back: A Parent’s Guide to Letting Go
That moment has come. You have talked about it, looked forward to it and maybe even dreaded it at times. It seems your little girl isn’t so little any more. Saying goodbye as you watch her go off to follow her dreams has left a hole inside you, and a whole lot of thought and emotion!
You feel sad, you’re not in the best of moods, you remember her as a baby, you wonder where the time went and what the future holds. But one thing is for sure and this really hits home the hardest: there is no turning back; things will never be the same. And that’s the hardest thought of all. For you suddenly become undeniably aware of your diminishing role and you may associate that with a diminishing sense of significance.
Here’s how I plan to cope, and have coped (for the past 6 hours since my daughter left home)!
1. You will always play a role! It’s true that the physical proximity and the intensity of the role may be reduced, and the role itself will be redefined, but you will always be significant to your kids, whether you like it or not! I still reach out to my own parents and treasure my time with them, in fact with a greater sense of “what a true blessing they are” than I remember having as a child.
2. Let’s face it, letting go is part of the greater plan and comes with the territory. Our kids are sort of on loan to us, but they are their own person. We’ve just been privileged to be a witness to their journey and have been allowed to play such a crucial role in shaping it. The bottom line: It’s not about you. It’s about them. This is their time.
3. Yes, there is no turning back. Time moves forwards not backwards. This is so obvious yet we resist the notion. The good news: there is so much time still to come inshallah and we can make the most of that. Let’s cherish all the time we have today with all our loved ones.
4. Things won’t ever be the same. Firstly, that’s a good thing! That means that there is a chance they will be better :). Secondly, while it’s true that things will never be exactly the same again, that doesn’t mean that all is lost and gone. Things will be different, you will have less face-to-face time together, but those times when you do get together will be fun-packed and memorable. With all the love in the air, those times have the potential to make up for lost time.
5. Let’s tap into that selflessness we moms are so good at! The same selflessness that came with all the sleepless nights and feeding and diaper changes and outings to places we hate just so that our kids can have a good time. A little bit of selflessness will go a long way at a time like this. Focus on your “child” and how they are doing. If they are excited, let that excitement fuel you.
6. If you aren’t already busy, get busy with something! If you have extra time on your hands, invest it wisely. Do something that fulfills you and lifts you.
7. Don’t be driven by fear. You have done your best to equip your child to face the world, and you are always there when they need you. Resist worrying every step of the way. Be cautious from the start, have all the conversations that you need to have in advance, supervise from a distance along the way, but then let go. Have faith that your child will manage, most of the time. They will make mistakes and learn from them; they will share some of those with you and they may keep some to themselves. But they will learn.
8. Be prepared to learn a few things yourself. Throughout their lives, as our children grow and experience new things, we can learn so much from them if we pause long enough to notice. In their university years (and beyond) this opportunity is magnified. A fascinating new world is open for you, if you are open to it. It can be truly inspiring to find yourself exposed to new things, to hear your son or daughter’s thoughts on a certain subject, to watch them behave so admirably in a particular situation. I know because I’m lucky enough to be learning every day, not only from my daughter as she sets off to university (and my 8 year old daughter, but that’s a whole other story), but from my son, who left home a few years ago for university and then to get married! To see your child as a responsible and caring adult is the ultimate fulfillment for any parent.
9. You get to be proud! On a completely selfish note, you can consider their success your success. Although I don’t entirely subscribe to that notion, considering that their success really is theirs since they put in all the effort, however you did plant the seeds so why not indulge in “I’m the proud parent of” a little bit.
10. Sit back and relax. Watch the journey, enjoy the journey, be part of the journey. Most of all, stay positive, stay loving, stay close.
Rania Badreldin is a Happiness Consultant, seasoned social entrepreneur and motivational speaker who is passionate about helping people live happier lives. She is also the Founder and CEO of The Family Hub, the social enterprise behind Mother & Child and The Family Experts network, a technical consultancy arm. Rania is an NLP and Hypnosis Master practitioner, Time Line Therapy practitioner, Certified Parent Educator, and proud mother of three.