Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Letting Go


Five years ago, my daughter, my only child, married and moved across the country to Seattle.

Today she shared with me that she didn’t miss us as much as she used to since meeting other women in her church group. Missing me wasn’t as all consuming as it used to be for her.

“That’s good,” I said.

So why did her proclamation make me want to cry?

Because she’s now moved another foot away. And it’s supposed to be that way.

Part of me hasn’t yet fully dealt with this empty nest I live in now. Part of me foolishly dreams that soon she’ll live near me and I’ll be an active part of her life again.

Today’s conversation was a gentle reminder from God that I’d done my job well. I’d raised a woman to stand on her own feet and create a life where she lives—apart from me.

He forgot to tell me how hard this really is.

Remember back to that day you dropped your first child off at kindergarten? It was all I could do to rush to my car without weeping.

And her first overnight away? Her first date? And then that wedding day. I thought I was used to her being gone.


My mother once told me I stopped holding her hand when she walked me to school when I was in the fourth grade. She said it hurt her feelings.

Maybe I needed to be independent, I told her.

Maybe I do.


Have you let go of someone lately?

51 comments:

Nehha N Josshi said...

Thanks for sharing this with us Terri. This must be so difficult a feeling to deal with.

Sassy Granny ... said...

It's a never-ending process for me. There's no "once & done" clause for releasing children & grandchildren - or even spouses, for that matter. I wake each & every day with the choice of holding on or letting go. Some days I'm more successful than others.

Teresa aka Journaling Woman said...

It's hard to let go of anything. I'm just saying it.

Jessica R. Patch said...

I felt that way when all the moms were walking their kindergarteners into school, but my daughter asked for the code to get into the building and that she had it under control. I watched her walk in, her little blond pigtails bouncing. She punched in the four digit code and waltzed in.

I thought other moms would think I was a bad one, but it's what she wanted, and I think it's important to encourage independence.

She's still doing things all by herself at 12 that I'd never dream of doing.

My son...another story.

Well, done, Terri! Way to be a good mama.

Katie Ganshert said...

This post made me teary, Terri!

My son's only two and a half, but these past two and a half years have gone so fast, it freaks me out!

Joanne Sher said...

Letting go is so hard. And my time is coming. Praying, sweetie - and praising Him for the wonderful job you've done with her.

KarenG said...

Allow yourself to grieve. It's part of the process. Even tho it might seem silly or self-indulgent when she is doing well and happy in her new life, it really isn't.

Sarah Forgrave said...

My son goes to kindergarten in two years. Some days I think I can't wait for someone else to chase after him, but I'm sure the sadness of it will hit me when it happens.

Jill said...

My oldest is almost 16! As with everything else, she's the test subject. When she goes out on her own, I'll see how I respond to it, how well it goes. But not yet. I have a couple of years more w/ her, at least.

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

Last night the DD, me and the hubs were having a conversation. She was laying out in great detail her plan to intern down in Mexico with the mission group that is stationed down there.I heard the words coming out of her mouth but in my head I was wondering when did this happen? My baby in not old enought to be going off workign in the mission fiel all be her self for 4 to 6 weeks...or is she??? It happens so fast and then all of a sudden they are doing grown up things and making all those decisosn and I just wanted to say...wait a minute, when did I give you permission to grow up!

Just breathing here. She heads off to Costa Rica in a week with her youth group...you are so right we try to instill in them certain character traits and teach them valuable lessons, but when they actually want to serve especially in places far away well it's a bit different!

Blessings
R

Shopgirl said...

Oh how brave you are. I'm not looking forward to that part of the parenting process. I have a hard time saying goodbye for just a few days. God does heal and provide peace, and sometimes the bit of pain help us find him is a blessing in disguise?

Loree Huebner said...

It's a life lesson. We let them go a little bit every day. From infant to wedding day and so on...

My kids have a strength and confidence that I didn't have growing up. They know that they are loved and that they always have a place they can call home.

KC said...

Thanks for writing this! i cannot relate to letting go of children since i do not have any....but i can relate to trying very hard to let go of my "old self" and really trying to hold on the new possibilities. I enjoyed your blog...

Crystal Monae said...

She will always be your daughter. She can not always be your baby, but always your daughter. No one can replace that bond.

Kenda said...

I think "letting go" and feeling like you are less a part of your child's life are two different things. You know the day comes when they will leave the nest, but you want reassurance that you are still a part of their lives. Sometimes that takes more time than the adjustment to seeing them move away. But it will come. They do love you. They do miss you. But sometimes they just don't say it so often.

My son and his family moved to Spain in March. They are back in LA right now trying to finalize their visas, but just cannot wait to get back to their "new life." I'm happy for them, but wish they loved it here as much!

Anonymous said...

Terri, Blogger is not allowing me to leave comments.

I just wrote you one but couldn't get it through.

Anyway, our son lives thousands of miles away and it still tears me up inside. But I know he's happy so that counts.

Gratefully, I have a daughter within driving distance.

We must go forward in our own lives and live them the best we can.

Do you skype with your daughter and your grandchildren?

Take care, Terri. And may God hold you safe in the protection and security of His arms. Susan

Dawn Simon said...

Beautiful post. It's true, you did a great job raising your daughter, and it's wonderful she can make it on her own! But I understand. <3

Ooh--I haven't read all the comments, but I really like what Crystal wrote. :)

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Terri - I also have one daughter, but she's only eight. Today, for the first time, I dropeed her off at her camp without walking her to her classroom door. She gave me a bright smile and walked away, and I had the same feeling.

Lynda R Young said...

Precious post. I have to let my mum go. She lives 6 hours away and she used to call a lot but now she's super busy in retirement. She has her own life. When I ring her she's usually in a rush to go out. She is loving her life and it's fantastic, but like you said, it's hard to let go.

sarah said...

Wow...Terri...I hear you. My oldest is 15; we're tight & yet I need to let her learn to fly on her own and one day...she will 'move' to that independence you talked about. Hard to think about it....thank you Terri for sharing your heart....you remind me it's okay to be human...to feel our feelings....and to know we're all pretty much the same.. Hugs to you...I think you're the best.

Jessica Nelson said...

Eeek! No, not so much. My six year old is starting to pull away a little when it comes to kisses. My mom has always said she misses me so much and I tell her I love her, but the truth is, I don't miss people that much. :-( So don't cry, what your daughter feels is normal and I think you're a wonderful mom to have inspired such a missing in her from the start! Also, I think you'd make a wonderful mentor to some young woman or child. That might help. Have you thought of foster care or volunteering somewhere?

Lin Floyd said...

passages, part of our parenting life. I love my empty nest time but do miss the closeness with my sons that used to be...time to focus on the grandchildren and connecting with them...

Jill Kemerer said...

This tugged at my heart, Terri. It's so hard being a parent--at any stage. I love your point about doing your job well. That's all I can hope for too--that I've done my job well.

Stacy Henrie said...

Sending my first to kindergarten wasn't too bad, but having him gone all day at first grade was tough in the beginning. Thankfully he had a fantastic teacher.

In a few short months, my second son will start school and that one is going to be a little harder, I think.

Sounds like you're a great mom!

Jaime Wright said...

Ugh. This post convinced to never let my baby girl move away - although she's 18 mo so I have some time - but still ...

Cheryl Wright said...

I know she must and I want her to. But because she's with me everyday, it's going to be difficult to let go of my granddaughter when she goes to kindergarten next year.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Letting go of anything, be it a person, object even a feeling is difficult.You brought your daughter up to be independent I guess.

Cheryl Klarich said...

How awesome that she met kindred spirits at Church!!
You did good, Terri!
Hearing the words spoken can cause one to have a bit of a sharp intake of breath, though... I'm with you there!

Melissa Marsh said...

My daughter is moving into another chapter in her life: middle school. She's getting more independent and while I love it, I also cry sometimes, too, when I think of how fast time is going. But you're right - this is how God designed it. :-)

Trisha said...

So precious. But, sometimes the shoe is on the other foot. A few years ago, I worked with a college student that shared with me, how it hurt her feelings, when she came in the first time on break, and found the small cans of biscuits in her mom and dad's refrigerator. She said, it almost broke her heart, because they were going on with their lives, without her. I knew her mom and dad, and knew how much they loved her, and told her so. But, I couldn't help but smile over how the size of a can of biscuits might make someone feel.
On another note, we raised our daughter to be very independent. It was the right thing to do. It was also the right thing to do, that you have raised your daughter to be independent as well. Blessings. Have a great day.

Warren Baldwin said...

Our third and last just graduated, and then took a 2 1/2 week trip (for a college class) to Greece. She'll be home for a month and 1/2 and then she is gone again - 12 hours away. We aer there with you. You are right about independence. It is healthy, but still hard. There is nothing easy about it, but it does help having others who can say, "Oh, I know. It's tough."

I've also found it helps to find someone young in the community that doesn't have a mom or dad and become smething like that to them. My wife friends an elementary girl through the school, and I take a couple of brothers (twins age 9) to the ball fields for practice. No, it's not the same as doing that with our kids, but it sure helps us feel like we are being useful to some kids that need us.

Just one idea.

In the meantime ... we know how it feels.

wb

Tana Adams said...

Actually this post makes me want to weep and hug you. I hope you move near one another again. I can't imagine a life apart from my children.

info said...

Loved this post; it made me think of one of my favorite quotes: On some hill of despair, the bonfire you kindle can light the great sky ... though, it's true of course, to make it burn, you have to throw yourself in. (Galway Kinnell)
xo Susan Branch

kathy taylor said...

Terri, I read this several days ago but couldn't bring myself to comment. Please allow me to say beautifully done. ♥

D. U. Okonkwo said...

This is a difficutl one, Terri - especially with family. My elder sister and her two kids, my two young nephews, moved from London to Canada - yes, very far. We don't see them as nearly as often as we'd like. I'm not a mother, but my mother probably misses them more. She's a mum, and it's difficult, so I understand we're you're coming from.

Carol J. Garvin said...

You've expressed yourself so poignantly, Terri. It brings me back to my own tearful times. Parenting seems to be a series of letting go experiences. We raise our children forgetting that they're becoming adults so when they make adult choices it's a huge adjustment for us. The hardest for me was when our first daughter married and left for a small town in the Yukon. I felt as if she had moved to the moon! It really helped when I got to visit and see her function in her home and community. After that, I could visualize her within her environment and the distance felt less daunting. Technology has also helped... Skype and iChats, e-mail and Twitter, frequent digital photos and videos sent from cameras and iPhones.

All of my children are married now and live in different cities, and DH and I have adjusted to the different role we now play in their lives, but it took time. We still miss them, but it's a joy to see what wonderful adults they've become and how well they do their own parenting.

Blessings to you as you make the necessary adjustments. Take joy in knowing your daughter has grown into the kind of independent adult that endorses all your parenting efforts! :)

Lauren F. Boyd said...

It makes me sad for you that your daughter's geographically far away, but you're right - she's an independent woman so that's a compliment to how you raised her.

My 4- and 2- year olds are growing up too fast. I know what you mean.

And thanks for stopping my blog and commenting! It's great to see you!

Sally said...

I'm prepping for August. UT is only 6 hours away and I believe he is ready to step out on his own but I'm not kidding myself on how difficult it will be for me. Let us shore each other up. Praying for you as I know you will pray for me. Blessings, my friend.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

That's what I tell my residents' families almost every day: Let go. But I truly know it's not easy. When my son moved out, I experienced depression and tearfulness for weeks. A year later, he came back to live with us until he graduates from college (in two years). I find myself at times thinking of when that second separation will take place... It's a dreadful thought. I better enjoy the present. One day at the time.

Doris

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

While I don't have biological children, other types of separation have impacted me. When I moved to another state, I missed the close friendships. When my husband died...well, what can I say?

We're given these treasures for a season here. The only true stability comes from our relationship with the Lord.

Blessings,
Susan

Kathryn Magendie said...

My son, DIL, and not yet 2 year old granddaughter live in Portland, OR - so I know your 'pain' -- so far away! I try to visit when I can, but it's difficult.

Deb Shucka said...

Letting go is so hard, but if we truly surrender, we're left with a space to be filled with new adventures and new loves. It also allows the potential of relationships to be more fully developed. I pray you find that richness in you new relationship with your daughter.

As I've dealt with my mom's death in the last few weeks, part of my letting go has involved releasing my hopes and dreams that we might have had a different kind of relationship. The other side of that relinquishment is a freedom I've spent my life searching for.

Hugs.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Yes, He did forget to tell us how hard it is to let go. I wonder how He feels when we inch away from Him and say, "I don't need You today; I can do life alone."

I had to suddenly let go of my brother when a heart attack killed him. That was a horrible good-bye.

You are very mature to realize you raised her well, and wise enough to know that sharing the hurt helps.

Just Be Real said...

Terri thank you for sharing. Blessings.

ginny said...

Terri, I think that moms want their daughters to always need them. I realized that my daughter did not need me as much as before when she had her own children and her own way of raising them. That goes for cooking, entertaining, religious issues and more. I think we always want them by our side and it is just a part of mother nurturing that makes us feel this way. It is not fun to let go, but we have to do it.

Lynn said...

I so get this Terri!!

My two youngest just graduated high-school this year, another milestone to adult-hood. And I know it is just a matter of a few years when they will all be gone from my home. As a single parent for 14 years, having the children gone will be a BIG change, but one I know is coming. And sometimes it hurts so much it feels unfair! But I shall, with God's help, view it as another season in my life.

Paul Greci said...

Thanks, Terri. I haven't had to let go of anyone close lately, but I have in the past.

Sista In Arms Lxx said...

My eldest daughter left home at 18. Not a choice we would have liked her to make but we love her and accept her and chose to keep relationship with her rather than allienate her because we didn't agree with her choice ( she lives with her boyfriend). This has been so hard, I miss her, question whether I did my job as mum teaching her enough, lots of emotions come into play, letting go is really a hard thing to do. I have three more daughters to go.... Lord give me strength. :)
Love reading your blog, will post your link on my FaceBook page, SistasInArms.
Lxx

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

That kind of "letting go" is a terrible mother's ache, bittersweet. When I dropped my first born off at college, I didn't think I'd ever recover. It was like a kick in the gutt. No one prepares the heart for these type of things. We think we have so much time only to realize that time is a liar. There's either too much of it or two little, but never quite right!

I remember the day I left home at 21, newly married, and moving 4 hours from my folks. I'd never been away from them, and it was traumatic for all of us! It's OK to hurt over this kind of love; it signifies the depths of what love truly is!

You are precious... take good care of your heart today.

peace~elaine

Gina Conroy said...

I let go of my 11 yr. for a full week at summer camp. It's the first time he's been away for so long. Along with physically letting go, I had to let go of the worry and believe God can do a better job of taking care of him than I can. While my letting go doesn't compare to yours, I think all these little "letting gos" prepares us for the bigger ones.

Connie Arnold said...

It's hard when our kids grown up and move away, especially when it's far away and we don't get to see them often. Big changes in a life that has been devoted to family and spending time together.