March 12, 2015

Letting Go

There you are-its boot camp graduation or Induction Day at a service academy and someone inevitably thanks you for raising such a wonderful son or daughter. It’s all true. You poured blood sweat and tears into this wonderful child of yours. You di d everything you could to raise a decent human being. And now the reward is to see them step forward to serve their country and protect and defend all of us. We are overwhelmed with pride. It takes a little while to sink in that we have totally lost control of our most precious resource.

There is a saying the military will issue everything you need and Mothers are not an issued item. What? I just spent several decades teaching, advising, and protecting this child and all of a sudden I am insignificant? You betcha. I am not saying you wont be able to continue to communicate but you will no longer have any control. I like to describe it this way. In the beginning you were the driver, then as your child got his or her learners permit you were the copilot. Maybe you graduated to be a back seat driver but once they join the military that is all over. You are not even in the car.

Things you may have always taken care of-his dental appointment, or her taxes are now up to them along with a thousand other things. Not only that but there are some things they cannot even tell you. Aack! Talk about a shock. This is cutting the apron strings with a machete. And when trouble comes-and it will –you cannot schedule an appointment like you did with the teacher when things went off track. Its up to your son or daughter to learn to navigate without you.

Arguably this is easier for some of us than others-ahem . . . But not matter the service type there will be a moment when you realize that they are on their own. Of course this is a healthy part of growing up I mutter to myself. But it is shocking because it happens so quickly and we moms need to learn a new role. We need to adapt –to become advisors and supporters – and to see our children as competent adults. It can take a while to come to grips with such a big paradigm shift. Usually when there is trouble it is because we are trying to smother these independent warriors. They have a lot to learn and so do we. But the results are amazing young people, well trained with a disciplined sense of purpose. We want them to be their best selves right? That means we have to get out of the way and let them soar even if it means they are heading into harm’s way.