The Art of Letting Go

Hopie Head ShotBy Hopie, The Mom of Three

I used to hide behind my mom and cling to her legs long after it was developmentally appropriate. Always shy, always lacking in confidence, I didn’t know how to let go, nor did I want to.

Fast forward 30 years and my oldest is leaving me in her dust. She’s got confidence in spades and I am still taken aback that I am raising a kid who says yes to everything. She went to sleep-away camp for four weeks this summer at seven years old (her idea). She will sleep at anyone’s house, will pick up frogs without first googling whether or not they’re poisonous, will jump from high ledges just to see if she can. She will let go of my hand and run off into her second-grade classroom and forget to say goodbye.

In fact, all three of my children lack a certain level of caution. This leaves me a bit dumbfounded, somewhat proud, and utterly scared to death.

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I am learning to let go.

Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s awesome. Like when I let my five-year-old ride her scooter around the neighborhood by herself, and she came back 20 minutes later, pushing her scooter with one hand and cradling a box turtle the size of a bowling ball in the crook of her elbow. She named it Shellder. Had I accompanied her on this scooter ride, I’m not sure our family would have ever had the pleasure of meeting Shellder.

I didn’t realize how much of motherhood was learning the art of letting go. Of the bike seat, of their hands, of control. I remember so distinctly being pregnant with each of them, feeling their kicks and stretches, whispering “I just want you in my arms.” I wanted them even closer. That’s what I thought most of motherhood would be—holding them close.

But now my kids are teaching me that motherhood is, in large part, taking a deep breath and letting go. Each goodbye I say at their classroom door, or as they head off into the neighborhood; each time I wave as they stand at the top of the high dive, this is how I can best help them be their most awesome, courageous, independent selves.

It wasn’t long after I first held each of them close in the hospital room, when their fists would instinctively grip tightly to my finger that I wondered: is the womb the closest they would ever be to me?

My kids might be lacking in caution, but they are not lacking in courage. Which I love. Which is awesome. But I firmly believe that whatever amount of courage it takes for them to jump into each new thing, a double amount of courage is required of me to let them.

And that is no small thing. Letting go Mommas, it takes your breath away. But I’m learning that in many ways, this is what raising a human is all about. If you are in the midst of letting go, pour yourself a big cup of coffee, take a deep breath, and loose your grip. Raise your mug to their courage, and to yours.

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