A good friend told me that parenting is the “long process of letting go.” It makes sense, doesn’t it? Your baby starts out completely dependent on you and the next 18 years are about (hopefully) letting them learn, grow and become independent little individuals. Two months from now, our Facebook feeds will be full of first day of school pictures and stories of kids letting go of mom’s hand to go into school alone. Even though my kid is not anywhere near that age, I get a little sad thinking about it.
Not unlike the 5 stages of grief, I think this long process of letting go has its ebbs and flows – the high tide and low tide. Sometimes, well after acceptance, you find the hot anger of the situation rising in your chest all over again. Or denial when you pick up the phone to call someone who does not exist in your life anymore. Sometimes, you are 35 and find yourself back at square one needing your dad again. It was just this year that I realized that a father’s work never ends. And I think it takes a very special kind of person and a very special kind of love to never stop giving. Maybe part of this long process of letting go is understanding when you are really needed and when you need to give space.
I hope that I can be the kind of parent that my father has been. This long process of letting go has not only helped me become an independent little individual, but also understand how to love your child without completely losing yourself. You as the individual are important too. The purpose of your life is not to make your parents proud or to make your kid’s life easy. Just seeing how my dad has lived his life made me realize that living authentically and courageously are so important. So important that none of the rest of this is worth it if you are not willing to try.
My dad never told me what to do. He helped me come to the right decision. He urged me to follow my heart and take a big step if I needed to. Or to not take any steps at all if that is what I needed. He urged me to be bold and be strong and that is what I did.
Happy Father’s Day to the greatest human example of making decisions out of love and not out of fear.