Have you ever wanted to walk away from this parenting gig altogether? You know, just say, screw it, these humans are almost grown up, surely my job is done.
I have four amazing, funny, smart teenagers in my life. I love them like crazy, but sometimes they totally exhaust me.This new chapter of navigating the world as a grown up is not easy for them.
Truth be told, it's not that easy for us either, because we are constantly having to check in about when to hold on and when to let go. When to tell them they are going to screw up and when to let them experience the natural consequences of their actions.
I know most parenting experts would tell me to let my kids make their own mistakes, to let them navigate the consequences of their actions. Iknow they're right, but it is so much harder in reality than in a parenting book. When the credit card meant for emergencies suddenly has charges for food, gas and coffee on it, I know it's time to step in and remind them that 19 per cent interest is a heavy yoke to carry for the next five years.
My kids are pretty independent and sometimes I don't hear from them for days. Then, usually when I am in the middle of a meeting, a yoga session or having the first quiet dinner with my husband in weeks, the phone rings and my help is urgently needed.And here's the kicker: they are genuinely irritated if I don't stop everything I am doing to answer their call!
Letting go of my kids being the biggest part of my life is really hard indeed.
My son will leave three texts in the space of an hour, and on the fourth demanding why I am not answering him back. I feel I have to justify myself to them by telling them what I am busy with – but heck, even if I am sitting on the lawn picking grass, it's my life isn't it?
In vitro, our babies literally inhabit us, and once born they are completely dependent on us for survival. This is a demanding time in life, but a beautiful time as well. As a new mom, we can feel needed in a way that we have never experienced before. Parenting changes the relationship we have with our life because it doesn't really feel like our life anymore. For me, it feels like my life with my kids, my time alone or my life with my partner.Suddenly, there are all these compartments and by far the biggest one is my life as a mother.
Through it all, I have always had a career, community responsibilities, friendships, and I have always found time for me. Yet, letting go of my kids being the biggest part of my life is really hard indeed.And so, perhaps in not wanting to let go of the big beautiful messy role of being momma, I have trained my kids to need me.
For several years now, I have been at their beck and call.Not an easy thing to admit as a parent, but when I look at it objectively, I know it's true. While they're away at school during the year, I feel it's my duty to be there at the precise time they need me because that's when they need me. If I can't be around them 24/7, I at least need to be there 100 per cent when they are home on the weekend or on a school break.
That was all well and good when they were 13, but my kids are 18 and 20 now.When I check up on them, when I bail them out, when I call the doctor on their behalf, I am preventing them from growing up. I realize it now, but I feel like if they still need me, then I am still mom.
There has been nothing in my life that is better than this, but it is changing.
Once they are truly independent, they won't need to call me for stuff, they won't need to talk to me to figure out when they can have friends over.And so, I come face to face with perhaps the most difficult part of parenting of all: letting go.Not just of them, but of my own identity as mom. With this, I know I will always be their mom. They will always need me, but their needs will change as I let go. Being a mom to young adults is just a new chapter of motherhood that I need to start, as heartbreaking as it may be to say goodbye to the previous chapter.
Olympian, speaker, author, daughter, life coach, friend, board member, wife. So many identities, yet the identity I have treasured most is Mom.It has been a breathtaking ride, one that has stretched my endurance, softened my edges, and strengthened my character.There has been nothing in my life that is better than this, but it is changing.
I have to let go and let my kids grow up. I will no longer enable their dependence in order to keep playing a role that I have come to depend on. I know in my heart of hearts that the time of being their go-to person is over.I will always fight for them, I will always have their back, but I have to let them grow up. I have raised strong kids more than capable of navigating their own way in their world and it's time to trust their wings as I gently nudge them out of the nest.
Allowing them to check their own flight times, to balance their own bank account allowing them to make mistakeswill test their strength.There may be great flapping of wings and squawks of protest, but in the end, I know we will be amazed how beautifully they fly.
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