I have the amazing privilege and gift of being a parent. I have been deeply grateful for that experience for my whole adult life, and what I have created with the person I call my son, over his lifetime, feels miraculous. We have each grown in very profound ways, and brought so many more gifts to our table as a result.
Part of what our relationship looks like is in person connection, which is more challenging to come by at this phase of his life. He is in college, living far away from home, and building what is important to him. I see him only once every few months, and when I am with him, I feel overwhelmed with happiness and love.
However, old habits tend to be difficult to let go of at times in Life. I have long taken care of his needs, even long after he became an adult and started making his own decisions. I like making sure he is okay. I like cooking for him, filling his refrigerator with groceries, or taking him on a shopping spree when we are together. It feels safe, familiar, and nurturing.
Yet, it is one of those areas where I need to be cautious within myself and my intentions. There are times when my care of him feels over involved; when I become so focused on him being okay, and the need for me to care for him, that I don’t allow him the space to figure out things on his own; nor do I trust his ability to do so.
I remember years ago, when he was first a teenager. His other mother and I had separated, and were living apart. It was an emotionally painful and intense time. I often had to pick him up after school at her home, the home that the three of us had previously shared as a family. I remember one particular afternoon, when I arrived to get him, he asked for my help. On the front porch of the house, a hummingbird had become trapped. It had actually tucked itself behind one of the shutters of a window. I wasn’t sure what to do, but felt compelled to do something. So, I gently and carefully reached in behind the shutter, and took the little bird into my hands. It didn’t move, and I was amazed at how small and fragile it seemed. We opened the porch door, I opened my hand, and it flew away. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life.
And, last weekend, as I drove away from my son, putting 12 hours of highway between us, I realized something. My son, my hummingbird, seems fragile and small and vulnerable at times, and I want to do all that I can to protect him. At the same time, I know that if I hold him in my hands, I cannot allow him to fly, to spread his wings, to create his own magic in the world. In Native American medicine, hummingbird symbolizes pure Joy. Yet, I cannot appreciate that joy in my son if I am holding him in my hands, not allowing him to be who he is, and trust that expression of his joy is the greatest gift I can allow for him.
So, again I learn. I learn that in the letting go, I am experiencing some of the most brilliant joy of my life.