Roots and wings…courage to let my children go

roots-and-wings.jpgYesterday, I watched my middle son graduate from high school and later, I kissed him goodbye as I depart for a new job in a new state and he remains in Northern California to start his adult life.

I have, in my recently discovered spirituality, the ability to navigate my emotions fairly well. Yesterday was an exception.  I sobbed. I sputtered. It was heart wrenching  for me.

I have tried to do my best, to give my children both roots and wings. I found myself wishing my spirituality was further developed, farther along, so that I might have instilled in him some of my new found knowledge and peace. I found myself afraid, what if something happens and I am so far away? Did I teach him enough? Did I give him enough time and attention?  Did I give him enough education? Will he make good choices? Will he own his mistakes and learn from them?

On the surface, I am proud of him. He has a dream and he is going after it. His dream is not the one I would have chosen for him. But, it is his life and his dream. I have encouraged him to go get it, to be the best man he can be. I have taught him that hard work and perseverance pay off and that relationships are important.  I have taught him to not let anyone or anything get in his way. I’ve shared my successes and failures and owned my poor choices, hoping that he can learn from them. I’ve tried to teach him that we are each responsible for our own choices and ultimately,  we are the sum total of the choices we make, both good and bad.

Yesterday was painful for me. Honestly, it was the hardest mom moment I’ve ever had. 20 years as a mother, I was unprepared for the agony of watching one of my sons spread his wings and fly away from the nest. All thier lives, all that I’ve done has been in preparation for this moment. My greatest fear is not that he will fail. My greatest fear is I have somehow failed him.

My new spiritual practice has not prepared me for this moment. The raw emotion of watching my son set sail for his dreams. While intellectually,  I know this is right, this is good and I probably should be doing more to move my 20 year old son in that direction.  But, my heart is not intellectually versed in these matters. My heart is not ready.

Today, with a heavy heart, I seek strength, courage and wisdom. Not only for my son, who is 17 years old and just beginning his adult life, but for me, as I transition from a hands on mother, to one who must now let him go. He is free to make choices without my guidance, although, I hope he will always seek it. He is free to celebrate his good choices and suffer the consequences of the choices that are not the best, without my intervention.  He is free to live his life, by his own compass. He is free to spread his wings and fly. I hope I have given him both roots and wings. I hope I have done my job.

The next thought that occurs to me, is as a single mother, the past 13 years have been so much about my boys. Every thought, every decision,  every choice takes thier well being into consideration.  I can see how women lose themselves when the nest becomes empty.  I never once, before yesterday, considered the possibility that I would have trouble watching my sons build their own lives, separate from me.

Yesterday was so bitter sweet for me. On the one hand, I am so proud of him, on the other, I will miss him so much. Using what I’ve learned,  I allowed the pain to come. I allowed the fear to wash over me, envelope me. I sobbed harder than I have in many years. I didn’t try to hide my vulnerability or sadness, I let it come. I held my son and told him goodbye. I am not ready to let him go. This shows me where I have room for growth in my spiritual development.  Attachment causes pain, intellectually, this I understand.  I am a mother and he is my son and no amount of spiritual growth can change that bond or turn my love for him. I pray for strength to let him live his life and make his own choices. I pray for courage, to let him face the result of those choices without trying to intervene or rescue him. I pray for serenity and a mind free of worry. Finally, I pray for wisdom. For my son to have the wisdom to make good chouces, to own his mistakes and to know that no matter what, he will always have a soft place to land.

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