Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Lifestyles

July 2, 2014

Cutting the cord

Being a parent is one of the most demanding jobs — both physically and emotionally. You are blessed with this little baby that is completely dependent on you after nine months of nurturing it in your womb, or being blessed with it from another source (via surrogacy or adoption). But nonetheless, this person is placed in your arms with a hardy pat on the back and you are sent on your merry way to raise it; and then you are told one day you have to back off and not interfere in its life any longer.

So on your way you go. No instruction manual, no tips, nothing — maybe a few diapers and some formula, but that is about it. You just have to hope and pray from your experiences that you do the best job you can do not to “screw them up”. But with that come such love, admiration, and devotion to this little person you just met. Your heart is immediately changed forever. You finally understand what it means to feel love at first sight, to love someone so much you would die for them, and to have unconditional love; that no matter how much they screw up, you love them anyway.

It is a love that is indescribable. But as the time passes and years go by, you have to learn to let go, or “cut the cord.” Luckily it happens in progressive stages, but each stage is difficult for parents. First there is the first crawl and first step. That is their first movement towards their independence, to being able to go and do what they want to do without your assistance or guidance. Then there is the first day of school — that is probably one of the biggest challenges for parents. You have to drop this precious person off at a strange building, with a strange person (the teacher) who is going to teach, care and nurture your child for eight hours out of the day.

Then comes the sleepovers with friends. When they are younger it’s not so bad, but as they get older and start driving and start dating, this is where it gets dicey. Are they really at their said place, are they safe? We, as parents, have to relinquish some of our power and realize that this is part of their growing up process, and trust them. They need to learn to handle themselves away from us, it is great social building blocks, and responsibility enhancement tools. But still the fact remains, that you are totally and completely in the dark of their safety, their whereabouts, their anything. You are not in control — and that right there is the biggest issue parents have to understand and come to terms with.

And the biggy — the double whammy — graduation and college. I guess it is best they both happen so closely together, because if they didn’t most parents would go insane. They graduate from high school, while entering adulthood, and then three months later you are supposed to send them off to college, in a strange town, with thousands of strangers, in a strange dorm or apartment, and they haven’t the slightest clue as to how to do their laundry, put their dirty dishes in the sink, or iron their shirt. So it’s do or die, sink or swim for them.

As a parent, the pain we feel from setting these little creatures free into the wild is the most daunting emotional task we will ever sustain. But it has to be done. We can’t keep them under our wings forever. They must experience life on their own, but we still have the comfort of knowing they will still come home — they aren’t completely out from under our wings. However, we need to understand that they will prefer to go on spring break trips with their friends and not the family anymore — the time of family vacations is coming to an end. If you are lucky you may get to squeeze a summer trip in there, but for the most part this is their time to fly. They need to stay on campus on the weekends and go to the football games, hang out with their friends, and just be young carefree adults, not be expected to run home every weekend.

But finally, the end comes to a close. Don’t worry parents — they will always love you, need you, and miss you. But the time has come for them to be set free. Whether or not they get married after college or wait a few years, as hard as it is for us to relinquish the power, it is their time to live their own lives and make their own decisions. It is way more difficult for us than it is them. As parents we forget that they are grown people, too, and they deserve the right to be asked “Do you want to come home this weekend for a visit?” “Do you want us to come out there for a visit?” “Are you able to come home for Christmas?” Or better yet, “do you want to come home for Christmas?” It can’t just be an assumption anymore on our parts, they deserve the courtesy to be asked these questions.

It is hard for us as parents to realize that just because they can’t or don’t want to come home, doesn’t mean they don’t love us. It just means that we did a good job. We raised healthy independent individuals that have established and created their own lives.

Parents need to cherish the memories, but don’t lay the burden of guilt on our kids if their actions aren’t exactly what we want them to be. Remember, it is the circle of life. We have to learn to let go and let them live their lives the way they want, not the way we want them to live it. In our minds it wasn’t so long ago that they were these sweet helpless babies, but the truth is, it’s their time to experience their sweet helpless babies and feel that same love, and build their own beautiful memories.

               —————

 Samantha Stroube-Daviss is a Daily Sun columnist. Her column appears on Thursdays. She may be reached by email at columnwriter98@hotmail.com. Read her blog at Samantha-daviss.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter @samanthadaviss1

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