The first question I often ask mum’s of older children is “How did you cope with letting go?” The question always takes me back. My level of desperation to want to know “how to let go” surprises me because I have managed to move through each phase of motherhood with ease, declaring each new chapter “as the best yet”.
So why do I have this fear bubbling just below the surface of how will I ever let go of my boys Ed (10), Raph (8) and Sonny (7)?
I often find myself saying to other people “my boys make my life very easy…they’re at such a great age” And yet every age has been great – some more challenging and demanding than others, but always great.
I hadn’t been to pinpoint the answer until I read Mia Freedman’s book Work Strife Balance (which is a blog in itself for another time) where she identifies the “lasts”. Bingo.
It is possible to consider THIS time with you children “the best yet” while still grieving the children they were in the past.
It’s easy to be so deep in the fog of motherhood to even realise, with each stage comes a “last”.
The last breast / bottle feed, the last nappy change, the last time a hand reaches up to grab yours to cross the road, the last temper tantrum on the floor of the supermarket, the last time little feet make their way into your bedroom in the middle of the night, the last permissible kiss at the school gate.
There are so many lasts that accompany each stage of childhood and yet because we are focused on egging our kids onto achieve the next milestone – we sometimes miss it. We are so busy cheering rolling, crawling, walking…look he’s running! That it’s easy to not slow down long enough to witness the lasts and how could you truly ever know it’s the last anyway – they’re such unpredictable little mites.
Now that I’ve identified it’s not the fact that my kids are growing older that drives my fear – it’s quite the opposite, I rejoice in their ageing and and see it as the great privilege I know it to be – I’m implementing some strategies to tame my fear.
I’m focusing on rituals.
I’ve always incorporated rituals into my parenting style and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. I’ve decided it’s the rituals that we repeated over the years that the boys will always remember. They will form the bones of our “remember when” conversations when they are grown men.
Our favourite ritual is the “camp-out”. My husband travels for work every week so when he does I drag the boy’s mattresses into our bedroom and we camp out. They self-regulate who gets to sleep in the bed with me and then there are two on the floor. Everyone sleeps well in our camp-outs, lulled into a restful sleep by the feeling of security. There will be a last “camp out” one day (sob) and then I’ll find another ritual.
I’m practising coping mechanisms…already #crazylady.
Practice makes perfect right, so when they fly the nest I’ll be well prepared.
I’m gradually broadening the boy’s boundaries and increasing their freedom in age appropriate ways – Ed is now allowed to ride to the bakery on his own for example. My parenting style has always been more free-range than helicopter and I’m going to continue that.
My relationship with my husband, Kane is another high priority. I want him to always be my wingman, because one day there will just be the “two of us” again and when that day comes I want us to still be rock solid.
I’m also investing in myself. Developing my own interests, sense of purpose and independence is an ongoing affair. When I’m not so occupied with Sunday morning sport, homework and driving a taxi, I’m thinking there will be a lot of time spent with me…alone…so I better really love my own company.
Of course the reality is, this new-found awareness is just a means to see how much I can let go because not even my last breath could break the bond I have with the fine young men I have the honour of calling my sons. Happy mother’s day x