Walking the Line: Loving Well and Letting Go
Don’t live the life of a mom on your own. Share your challenges with a mentor.
“What do you mean?”, he asked as he walked into my office, oblivious to the fact that I’ve been writing a column for about eight years.
“Well, each month, I write something and send it to moms all over the country. So, what should I write about?”
“Ummm. Jack’s math,” he said, and walked back out of my office.
“I don’t think I can get a whole column out of your love for math, but thanks, bud.” Out of the mouths of babes.
I can say that again. Last week, my eleven-going-on-sixteen-year-old daughter and I were going around and around about something – the laundry she hadn’t folded yet, or the shower she hadn’t taken yet, or the next-day’s lunch she hadn’t made yet, something. Something that I was harping about. Something that she was totally capable of handling on her own. And I stopped myself mid-harp. “You know what, you can take care of this on your own,” I said, holding my hands up in the international sign of I’m letting go, I’m moving off this subject now.
“Wait,” she said, “don’t just walk away. Either you’re controlling me or you’re ignoring me. There’s no middle.” O.U.C.H. Maybe that little girl is more like eleven-going-on-therapist.
So, Moms, this is where you find me tonight. Walking that fine line with my daughter of letting go and loving well, all at the same time. Giving assistance, giving guidance, giving freedom. This is something I’m finding difficult to do. And I don’t think it’s just because I’ve never had a middle schooler before, but because I think I just may “control or ignore” as a way of relating (from time to time, and not with everybody, but still.)
She called me on something. She’s really good at that, by the way. (That very well may be why God made preteens.) And you know what? She was right. Either you get my full attention, a.k.a. full involvement, or you might just get me walking away. Do you want my opinion, my help, my advice, or don’t you? Because apparently you can’t have me just smiling supportively on the sidelines, watching you make your own choices. Not yet at least. I’m not there yet. This is something I need to work on.
Because I want the people in my life to be able to live their own lives. To be able to learn under the weight of their own mistakes. To be able to celebrate in the wake of their own hard-fought victories. What I need to do, what I’m trying to learn, even with my children, is to love them well, to support them in their decisions, but to let them go. To let everyone in my little world other than me off my hook. I’m not there yet. I may not get there for a long, long time. But I’m trying.
Moms, how are you doing in this area? Are you the ringmaster of everyone in your life? Do you keep your own plates spinning, and your kids’ and husband’s and needy neighbor’s and calling-all-the-time mother’s as well? Do you need to maybe step back and let the people in your life – who you really do care about – learn to spin their own plates for a change?
In some families, with children who are very young, or in certain situations, spinning more than your fair share may be what is required for this season. So I’m not implying that you just let everything drop. I’m talking about those of us who are doing what isn’t necessary, doing what someone else is fully capable of doing on their own. Those are the things I’d like to see us let go of.
I’m hoping maybe one day, my daughter and I will look back and laugh, remembering my controlling ways, knowing that I was doing the best I could, but seeing how far I came in letting her go. At least, that’s how it would all turn out if I could be in charge. (There I go again.)