I worked really hard to build a solid, open relationship with my teenaged daughter. Over the years, I have been more successful at it than others. One of the lessons that I learned early on, was to watch over and be close, at the same time as letting her go. Letting her use her wings.
Letting go lessons came in the form of the first day of Kindergarten, getting on a school bus all by herself. Her first day in middle school. First day in high school. Driving alone for the first time. Going on a date, without a chaperone. And, although I had a bit of anxiety about each of those milestones, and sadness about time gone by, I was ready to watch her fly.
However, more recently, she has been struggling a bit. There has been much weighing on her mind and her heart. And, I find myself not being so willing to let her figure things out, and be close when she needs me. I feel more like wanting to hover, to stay with her, to find ways that I am able to keep protecting her, even at seventeen.
What is at the root of that is fear. Fear that maybe she won’t open up when things have gone terribly wrong. Fear that she will be in a situation that she doesn’t know how to get out of. Fear that she won’t need me to be here for her, or that she will feel alone or abandoned without me around.
This morning, I realize that although we are close, and she knows that I am here for her always, I need to also let go yet again, and to stay near while letting her sort things out. I can do both. Even when I am afraid, I can observe the power of her getting to choose, and me offering extra support if she needs it. I get to trust that she will know, and ask, as she goes forward.
Parenthood feels so scary, and freeing at the same time. I know that what I have done so far to be her mother, and friend, will guide her in the precise direction that she needs to go. That she knows best what to choose. And that I can trust in that.