I find myself reflective this Father’s Day as I prepare to send my oldest son off to College. How do you say goodbye to your own flesh and blood and send them out into the big bad world?
My mind wanders through eighteen years of intimate connection. No wonder it’s hard to let go.
I took my minor role in his birth very seriously. Not sure exactly what I could do to help the situation, I whispered calm thoughts about breathing until Meg reached out and pulled me close in a headlock. She squeezed tight and didn’t let go for 12 hours. I could neither breathe, nor speak. That seemed better for both of us. Two weeks later in the chiropractor’s office, I reflected on the experience.
I had the honor of cutting the cord. Now that was a heart stopping thing to do. It was hard to believe the nurse who said that it wouldn’t hurt either mother or child. I mean it was part of both of them. How could it not hurt? It made me a little squeamish. I asked if we could just leave them attached. From the moment that cord was cut, I began learning the delicate balance between holding on and letting go.
Words can’t accurately describe the elation of partnering the creation of new life. It gave me some small insight into some of the mysteries of life including a profound appreciation for the Source of Life, by any name. It also began preparing me to send him off to College as a giant stride towards independence for father and son.
I am connected to my son at a cellular level and that puts everything in perspective. I can let go knowing that neither distance nor time can change the bond we have. I am related at the most intimate level, and letting go will always be relative. We are connected no matter what.
As I practice letting go of my son, I learn something profound about the nature of life. It’s a constant push and pull with attachment. You know what I’m talking about. Your five year old son wants to use the restroom by himself for the first time. You stand at the door talking to him the whole time. Your thirteen year old daughter wants to go on her first date alone with a boy. She’s getting embarrassed about being seen in public with her parents. You are torn between her desire for independence and your understanding of sixteen year old boys. So you send her off with a cell phone GPS tracker and wait by the front door in a rocking chair. Your eighteen year old son wants to join the military. Your twenty year old daughter wants to get married. Your adult children want to move across the other side of the world, taking your grandchildren with them. Now you see why you need to practice this whole letting go business. You have to prepare yourself for life’s big surrenders.
It’s hard, but the alternative is much harder. The freedom of letting go is that you feel lighter, you move more easily, you have less baggage and you discover that most of what you let go comes back to you in some other form anyway if you are open. I will let go of my son and he will come back a different person. He continues his journey towards independence, and so do I.