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Letting Go

Life tries to tell us that the hardest part of parenting is the early years. The truth? The hardest part is learning to let go and letting our children take the lead.

Parenting only gets harder.

Not in the ‘my child is having a complete melt down in the middle of aisle 13’ hard. Or the ‘seriously, we have to go to the craft store at 8:00 at night because you forgot to mention a project is due tomorrow’ hard. Or even the ‘let me try to rack my brain and remember how to do trigonometry from over twenty years ago so I can help them with their homework’ hard.

The hard part is letting go and letting them take the lead. For all of their young lives, as parents we have lived in front of our children--guiding, protecting, teaching, supporting. Every now and then a wave of independence and individuality will rise in them, so subtle it is almost overlooked. But then it builds, slowly but surely. Eventually wave after wave of responsibility washes over them, with a healthy dose of trial and error mixed in—because, you know, no one just arrives with a doctorate in adulting.

Suddenly that little kid who could not figure out how to use a spoon is…grown.

I’ll tell you some of the times that have been seared into my memory. Sitting around the kitchen table talking about current events and hearing their opinions voiced in such a coherent and thoughtful manner that it gives me so much hope for the next generation. Witnessing them overcome obstacles placed in their way through no fault of their own and seeing them rise with a crown of resilience atop their heads. Letting them make their own mistakes and course correct of their own accord without interference. Loving them through their very first heartbreak, assuring them that the sun will still rise, and seeing them come out on the other side.

Your little ones are no longer little. Instead of eagerly watching their favorite cartoons on repeat, they are coming into their own, making their own path with a good head on their shoulders. Seeing good in the world but staying rooted in reality. Finding their passion, their path, and their truth.

Life tries to tell us that the hardest parts of parenting are when newborns do not sleep through the night. Or that no, it is definitely the terrible twos with tantrums that happen without warning. Or better yet, actually it is the school years, with foundational learning, activities out the wazoo, and constantly being on the go.

I am not saying those are easy times. But the hardest part of parenting?

Learning to let go.

Letting them take the lead.

Seeing the world take a swing at them and not being able to stop it.

Watching them learn the hardest lessons, the ones we all have to experience.

After leading for so long, it is odd, almost unnatural, to fall back. Vertigo may even threaten our senses. But in our hearts we know it is the right thing to do, even if it aches so very, very much.

Their future is bright and full of opportunity.

So bright, you can only see it if you take a step back.

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