Thursday, June 21, 2007

Letting Go

Yesterday at the pool, I waited at the bottom of the waterslide for my oldest to come shooting out the flume. My kids love the waterslide, but are not yet strong enough swimmers to swim to the ladder without help. But that changed yesterday. Erin hit the water paddling like mad. I reached out to put a hand under he belly as usual, but she shouted, "Let go, Mom!" So I let go, and she paddled on, all the way to the pool side. Of course she just had to tell the story to Dad when she got home.

Today I put her into somebody else's SUV with three other kids and sent her off to 4-H camp. I waited around until they were ready to leave. Then I told her goodbye, got in my van, and drove home with tears in my eyes. It is her first time to go to camp. It's her first time to spend a night away from home any place other than grandma's house.

Last night I checked over her bag. She had packed it herself, and there were a few things missing I knew she'd need. A flashlight. A bathrobe. Sunscreen. I tucked in her camera. And I found her swim goggles in the closet -- she'll wish she had those, I thought, and put them in the bag too. This morning she noticed the extra items. "Thanks, Mom," she said. "You're nice."

Sometimes people think that homeschool parents do what we do because we are clingy, or controlling, or overprotective. That we don't want to let our kids be independent and try their wings. That we're avoiding that universal milestone of putting our children onto the school bus for the first time and telling them goodbye. But the truth is that parenting means letting go. It's going to happen sometime, somewhere, some way, regardless of the choices parents make for their family. And it's always bittersweet.

I want my kids to try their wings. But I want to make sure they have roots as well.

Erin's going to have fun at camp. I can't wait to see the pictures.


Amy W said...

"I want my kids to try their wings. But I want to make sure they have roots as well."
Well said. I feel the same.
Wings to fly yes, but they need somewhere to land- they need deep roots.
Enjoyed stopping by- found you thru Pass the Torch today!

Anonymous said...

I also would add that the difference is "when" we let go. and the answer to that is individual. Some sooner than others.

Rebecca said...

Thanks for peeking in...I visited your blog as well; I see you also use Saving Dinner -- great stuff.

Good point. And in both cases in my little anecdote, SHE was the one branching out, when she was ready (although she was so anxious about camp, even though it was her choice to go, that she wanted to back out at the last minute!)

Barbara Frank said...

Somewhere I read that being a mom means walking around with your heart outside of your body. Isn't that the truth!

I'm sure your dd will come home with all sorts of stories to tell, but that she will be glad to be home, too.

As for people thinking homeschoolers are clingy parents, while it's true there are a few, most can't hang on even if they want to. My oldest two, homeschooled from birth, are very independent young adults today. Homeschooled kids have too much interest in learning about the world to be tied down :)

Barbara Frank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GeorgiaMom said...

I just found your blog and have enjoyed reading. This post especially touched me. My family tends to think I shelter my girls too much and I can't seem to make them understand that's not the point of homeschooling. It's so when the time comes to let them go (and I assume that happens gradually over a period of time)they will have the skills, foundation, relationship with Christ, and a tie to family to keep them grounded. But, it's great to do that in baby steps and when they are ready for it.

BTW, I loved 4-H camp as a kid. I'm sure your DD will have a great time!

Georgia Mom