Thursday, January 6, 2011
For a long time I thought that the hardest thing I ever had to do was to walk away from my daughter. She was 15 and heading off for a year as an exchange student in Spain. We had spent a great week enjoying the sites in New York City before meeting at the airport with the group of students going to Spain. My flight heading back to Oregon left from another terminal an hour before her flight left. I still don’t know how I found the strength to turn and walk away from my child knowing that it was the last time I would see her for a year. Intellectually I knew that I had to let her go, but the mother part of me wanted to hold her safe and near.
Several years later I had to walk away from her brother. Over a long weekend my son went through a battery of tests and evaluations and it was determined that he needed residential treatment for his substance abuse problem. The day after Thanksgiving my husband and I drove him 150 miles to a residential drug treatment center. I walked away and left him there knowing that it was the only real hope for a future that he had, but the mother part of me still wanted to hold him safe and near.
When people talk to me about difficult decisions, leaving my kids is what I think about. Part of being a parent is making tough decisions. The easier decision would have been to not let go, or to not see the drug problem. Knowing that it was the right thing to do didn’t ease the pain of letting go. The ache was there, but it dulled with the joy of seeing my children grow and prosper.
This past Christmas my entire family flew to California to my brother's house in San Diego to celebrated the holiday. The last time we were all together for Christmas was four years ago when my mother died a few days before the holiday. Four generations celebrated Christmas under one roof. I slept well at night knowing that my children, who are now 30 and 32, were tucked safe and warm in their beds.
The moments together are increasingly rare and treasured. However, these days it is easier to let them go because I know from experience that they will return safely.
I am grateful for family who love me despite my numerous faults and for my children who, even though I've let them go numerous times, occasionally return to the nest.