Letting Children Fly

FlyingImageThe conversation in the yoga studio yesterday was a common one in the month of May. Mothers commiserating about graduation ceremonies and college choices, the dating lives of their young adults. Almost all the talk was laced with stress and worry.

So, how do we ever let our young adult children go and trust in their path enough not to worry, not to fear, not to judge?

We grow them miraculously inside our bodies, nurturing them in utero. We sing to them and talk to them, feel the first flutter of movement. Our voices, our vibe are their home. We breathe in the smell of soft scalps, kiss rosebud lips.

We are responsible for every ounce of nutrition at first, every bit of sustenance. Then doses of antibiotics and fever reducers, cool washcloths on hot brows, loving hands on growing pains, loving hugs as knees get scraped.

As they grow, we worry. Did we give them enough spiritual guidance, cultural enrichment, fun and delight, unconditional love? Aren’t we responsible for all of this and even their happiness—for the adults they will become? Is this what we believe? Is this true?

And don’t we want to protect them from everything, just like we tried to do during childhood?

Here’s the thing: Our kids will have stumbles and rough patches, if not out and out falls. Their lives will not be perfect, whatever that means.

Following is an excerpt from a sweet little book, “The Yamas and Niyamas,” by Deborah Adele, that speaks to worry about others:

“Handling challenges gives each of us a sense of skill, self-esteem, and accomplishment. When we try to fix or save someone else, we are keeping them from getting the learning the situation has for them. When we try to take someone out of their challenge or suffering, we take them out of the environment that offers them a rich learning experience. We are in a sense, cutting them off from the power of growing stronger, more competent, and more compassionate.

“It can often feel like torture to let a person we care about sit in the suffering and challenges of their life. We almost can’t help ourselves; if they are hurting we want to make them feel better. If they have a decision to make, we want to tell them how to make it. And yet, the only thing we have to offer that is truly of value is to sit with them where they are, as they are. We need to trust suffering and trust challenge and trust mistakes; they are what refine us when we don’t run from them.”

This is the supreme challenge of motherhood as we launch our children into adulthood. It is much more difficult than drying the tears of childhood. For our children’s dreams for their lives are their own—as they should be.

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