Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just let go.

Remember the lost boxer we recently found? I'm happy to say she was reunited with her owner the next day. Before that, though, I emailed my children to let them know there might be a new pet available for them. My daughter's response went something like "I'm not sure I could be responsible for a dog."

I'd like her to imagine getting a dog. Of course she'd have to clip its nails, take it to the vet once a year, make sure the food and water bowls weren't empty. In return she would have a non-judgemental companion, one who would happily greet her with wagging tail each time she returned whether she had been gone for five days or only for five minutes. A furry friend to cuddle with whenever she wanted, one who would be there to provide unconditional love 24/7. And should she raise her voice over some misbehavior the dog wouldn't go away and sulk or turn and say "I hate you."

Now I'd like her to imagine that she's had this dog for about ten years or so when it runs away or dies. I really think in no time at all she could "just let go." Right?

After the motorcycle incident reported in my previous post my daughter sent me a photo of herself that she said represented her "satisfied mind." When I asked if that meant the racing around on the bike was now out of her system I got another email. This one said something like "Mom, I'm doing what I love. Learn to just let go."

So we've talked about responsibility for a pet. Now let's imagine we're responsible for a tiny human. Yeah, you'll have to clip this one's nails for sure. And you'll have to take it to the doctor maybe multiple times each year. It won't be able to feed itself or move itself to a safe place. And oh, by the way, it won't be able to clean its own butt.

Imagine you sit by the little one's hospital bed when she has to have tubes put into her ears or have the cyst on her neck surgically drained. There will be a sunny day when the sounds of her playing outside change just enough to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck and you'll know she needs you. You sit with her holding ice on the golfball sized lump on her forehead and hope that what you know is coming won't -- two black eyes.

Next, you send her off to school. You hope that she won't be scared, that she'll get along with the teacher and the other kids. You're unexpectedly allowed to be proud when the local newspaper shows a photo of her (on the front page, no less) reading a book to her peers in kindergarten. You diligently make the Halloween costumes every year and pay attention to what she's hoping Santa will bring. You make sure the Easter Bunny shows up. And don't forget the birthday parties.

She's gotten older and now can trim her own nails and wipe her own butt, although you still have to take her to the doctor every now and then. You have to fill in the blanks left by her teacher and her friends when it comes to the "birds and bees." You're responsible. You worry about her academic progress and you participate, like a good parent, in the high school marching band's activities. As if Girl Scouts wasn't enough, camping and selling those cookies . . .

High school graduation comes along and you feel lucky she made it through; the divorce has taken its toll on both of you. Still, she's a lovely young woman with good friends and now has her first serious relationship with a young man. You work with her on making the decision whether to go to college or find other appropriate work. You probably shouldn't still feel responsible, but you do.

You take the time to look at housing possibilities for the happy couple. Maybe you donate some towels or a blanket to their effort. Over the years you've had a couple of ambulance rides with her but she's come out all right; this time there's no ambulance but her hurt is very real and you take her home hoping her wounds will heal. Maybe they never will.

She's grown into a woman capable of taking care of herself. She's moved out of state, bought cars, found jobs -- become self sufficient. You're not responsible any more. Chicken pox, strep throat, flu, braces, a dislocated knee and bad hair days. It's probably a good thing you were there. Now she's bought a motorcycle and wants to race around a curvy track at speeds in excess of 100 mph, but you're no longer responsible. And she's doing what she loves. So come on, mom, "just let go."



Heather said...

Crying, again!

Kuj said...

Great post Momma. It was neat to see slices of my life from another perspective...

Though, to clarify, I just meant that you should try to let go of the anxiety, not me. Odds are good your buildup of concern is just a waste of energy. As it was, I was completely unharmed...I'm still surprised there weren't even bruises. You know how easily those appear from Tom church-pinching me.

Love you. :)

Tommy said...

Ahhh...guilt, love, a journey...this story has it two are cute. I love you both :)

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