Letting go harder for moms than kids

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Roots and wings — that is what we should give our children.

Roots to ground them and wings so they reach a sky that holds their dreams. Of course, it is good for them to know the place that rooted them is there should they fall in their efforts to fly.

The past few days, this experience of children leaving the nest came to mind often. What brought it up was seeing pictures and reading posts from parents, mostly mothers, sending their babies out into the world for the first time.

My three oldest flew from the coupe long ago, but I remember my feelings watching them take flight. I felt proud and scared with a mixture of panic.

Of course, there were many steps on the way to that leap of independence. It started the first day of kindergarten or daycare or whenever you left them in the care of someone who was not you.

It was like leaving a piece of your heart behind as you drove away glancing in the rearview mirror and fighting the urge to turn around, grab your child and race back home. Most times, the child was fine pretty quickly after you left. You were the one who dealt with tears for a week or two.

Then they moved to high school and you watched your babies become a teenagers. Suddenly, your sweet children wanted you to drop them off in a secluded spot so no one would know they had parents. And, you must not wave or hug them in public.

Those were the years you wondered if you would ever have a meaningful conversation with your kid and, at times, you rather wished you could kick them out of the nest ahead of schedule. Oh, but those years go quickly.

Today, I saw the pictures on Facebook of mothers hugging young adults. (And a few of tearful mothers hugging first graders.) The children were mostly smiling, especially the older ones who were leaving that comfortable nest.

True, they don’t know what is coming once they have that freedom they crave. They don’t know what it is to take care of your needs without a parent right there to help when you ask. Mothers know, and that’s the reason for the long faces and clinging hugs.

I remember when my children moved from my house to their own places. Oh my, how empty those rooms looked when I passed their bedroom doors. Yes, I sat in those rooms and felt the weight of that emptiness because I knew chances were they would never live under my roof again.

It’s funny how you take young adults to college or watch them drive off on their honeymoons, and suddenly see, instead of grown people, three-year-olds with skinned knees crying for their mommy.

Yes, I’ve been down the farewell road and it is a journey of discovery, mostly you learn about yourself and that maybe you are that clingy mother you said you would not become. Of course, the journey starts the first time your baby crawls out of your sight to explore alone, and it continues as you grow together. The good news is if you do the best you can, give them all the love you have, honor them as individuals and not extensions of you, they develop into amazing humans who are a gift to the world. At least that is how I feel about my own children.

So you parents, especially mothers because I am one, pushing chicks out of the nest and into the big world beyond high school, remember roots and wings. Oh, and know even though they are not living your house, they will return and gladly acknowledge you as their parent.

If for no other reason than because you have a washer and dryer, will fold their clothes and fix a meal while they go visit their friends who also flew home for a weekend visit.


Nancy Blackmon is a writer and yoga teacher.