The Hardest Part of Parenting is Letting Go

Photo by  Travis Grossen  on  Unsplash

It was hard listening to my kids cry incessantly when they were babies. I didn’t know if it was just gas or because I was a terrible parent who couldn’t rock his own children back to sleep.

It was hard holding the door shut when my son kept climbing out of his crib and trying to leave his room. He would be crying on his side of the door and I would be bawling much harder on my side of the door.

It was hard having two kids in diapers at the same time. One walking and one crawling. Sh*tting and p*ssing like mad villains. Especially when their diaper was being changed.

It was hard getting divorced. Knowing that I would only have half of the time with them. Half of the memories. Half of the experiences. Half of the smiles. Half of everything.

It was hard watching them grow up. Needing less from me. When I wanted more from them. Because I was broken. And they were perfect. On their own. Growing up.

But the hardest part of parenting is letting go.

Why I Am Scared to Let Them Go

Because I need them. To be me. Who am I without them?

Because the love I have for them is unconditional. I will never feel this for anyone else.

Because I can’t protect them. From the world. From men and women. From heartbreak. From life. From loss.

Because I don’t want to let them go. I am selfish. I need them. I need their love. I need their approval.

Because cars can crash into them. People can offer them drugs. The world could implode. Without me by their side.

“We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves.” — Henry Ward Beecher

Why I Have to Let Them Go

So they can think for themselves. And make their own decisions.

So they can be free. From me. But always know I am there for them.

So they can fail. And get up. And do it again. And get up again.

So they can mature. Without me. As them. In all their beauty.

So they can be. As not my son or daughter. But as their own person.

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What I Have To Do To Let Them Go

I have to build confidence in them. So they don’t need me. But they know I am always there. In perpetuity.

I have to inspire them. To be their own person. To find their true North. And not settle for less than happiness.

I have to allow them. To stray. To make mistakes. To err. To come back. To be forgiven. To be loved. Always and forever.

I have to push them out of the nest. So they can make their own way. Create their own path. Build their own life. With me standing by. Believing in them.

I have to hide my feelings of loss. So they can be free. From my emotional attachment to them. Because they are my children. And I serve them. For all the days.

Where I Am, Where I Will Be

I have a son in 12th grade about to graduate. And a daughter in 10th grade.

They will leave me soon. To do life. And I will be proud.

And sad. And scared.

But I am confident now. In them. In what I have done as a father.

I will be confident then. When they go. And fly their wings.

Because where I am is where I will be.

A parent.

Who knows.

The hardest part of parenting is letting go.

“At every step the child should be allowed to meet the real experience of life; the thorns should never be plucked from his roses.” — Ellen Key