AND THEN AGAIN……….by Tamara Pettit

………Graduation Day.  There will be a lof of cheers…..and a lot …..of tears this week as both graduates and parents bid farewell to a a segment of their life that has consumed them for the last 12 years.  The young man or woman now sets forth on their individual journey as they bid farewell to high school.

Wait! What about Mom and Dad? .   After this summer, their lives are sure to change.  This kid has consumed their every waking moment.   And now?  Life as Mom and Dad know it will never be the same. 

……I know all about this.  I’ve experienced it and no, I wasn’t good or graceful about it. I have always let go badly with tears running down my face and sobs making my kids look around like they didn’t know who I was.    I was a clinger.  But in the wisdom gained through the years I think I have developed a theory.   Graduation night is just the culmination of a process that started long ago.   Let me share once again a column I wrote in 1984 about that process

                                LETTING GO

It’s never easy and seems paradoxical that letting go of your own children appears to be an absolutely alien art,  After all the effort my generation of women put into being “free to be me” it’s ironic that when our children approach the moment where they no longer need us we have a melt down,

It appears that holding on is a universal trait.  Whether that trait is inborn or is developed is debatable.   I favor the inborn theory.   I distinctly remember the first stirrings of a primeval urge when my firstborn’s tiny fist wrapped itself around my finger.  A bond with tentacles as tenacious as steel threaded its way into my heart.  It would be repeated three years to the very day when his sister made her appearance.

From that moment hence, whether it was a trip to the pediatrician or the corner candy store, I held tight.  Sometimes overzealous in my efforts to protect them from the evils of the world or maybe just the dangers of the corner, they would have to remind me “Not so tight, Mommy.”

Parenthood, it seems requires constant reminders to loosen your grip.  You’re so busy caring for their every need, molding their values and keeping them from harms way as they venture into the world, that the urge to tighten that grip grows stronger.

I guess that’s why God in his infinite wisdom takes your hand and pries your fingers lose, one by one.

I remember quite well, the first time it happened to me.  It was the first ay my son talked me into letting walk to the school bus all by himself.  I wasn’t quite sure and I said, “Just let me walk a little ways with you.”

He did.  But when I reached out as I had always done before to hold his hand, it wasn’t there.  He had tucked his hand tightly into his pants pocket declaring his independence.  Soon, without his hand to join us, it became apparent that our cadence did not match.  Mine, too too slow, reluctant to reach our departure.  His, too quick, eager to be free.

And so, I slowed my pace and told him to go without me.  I recall, he freed his hand to wave at me, grinned and said, “I’ll be OK, Mom!”

He was.   And so, after a few tears, was I.

It was the first of many times with both his sister and himself that I was to experience the gradual loosening of my hold.  Somehow, when we take on the role of parent we never contemplate the day when our job will be “phased out.”  When we clasp those tiny creatures to our breast, we think they are ours to keep.  No one bothers to tell us they are only ours for a short-term, high-interest loan.

And, when the balloon payment comes due it’s hard.  I know.  You see, through the years we keep them healthy, we cheer the victories, we brush away the tears of defeat and there are moments, just moments mind you,,,,that we catch ourself breathing in unison with them.

And now, the moment has arrived that every parents knows must come.  The strains of Pomp & Circumstance begin and our hearts swell.  The caps are tossed into the air and our job is done. 

Your son or daughter, is quite capable of keeping themselves warm, fed, and yes, quite happy and although no one taught us how to let go gracefully, our kids seem to know intuitively.

I guess, we’ve walked a bit of the way with them and it’s time to let them walk by themselves.

But it’s ok.  Someone must have taught them how to walk alone.

Could that have been you?

Congratulations graduates and congratulations parents.   Job well done!