Precious Moments: A Mother’s Story of Letting Go

The Birds, the bears and the rabbits…
While animals may not have the same reasoning power as humans, they did get one thing right, and that is they kick their babies out early. Birds push their babies right out of the nest. How do they know they are ready, I don’t know? What is the fatality rate of baby birds that just don’t make it?
I’m no animal expert, but from what I have seen the average animal in the wild seems to keep their young by them no more than a year or two before they send them off to fend for themselves, I guess their minds are hard-wired to teach their babies everything they need to know to survive in one or two years.
Before schools, children worked on farms and factories, they contributed to their families and their communities…you have to admit that today, we can barely get our children to do dishes or take out the trash, and that is with much better accommodations, food, and luxuries than children ever got back in the day.
Today, some kids get brand new cars, computers, all sort of expensive electronics, and clothes, and yet many of them are clueless on how much sacrifice and labor go into acquiring these luxuries.
Hand-me downs…
In the 70’s and 80’s, I remember that most of my clothes came from hand me downs and garage sales. I did get a car, but it was by no means a new car, and I was responsible for the gas. My father is a mechanic, and purchased the car for $500, so thankfully if it had any issues he or my uncle could fix it. I was by no means perfect though my parents had their rough times with me.
When we are young, we are so gung-ho over change, our childhoods were terrible and we want to make things better for our kids, and rightly so…some things did need to change. Child labor, abuse of children, and overall treatment of children back in the day, but there were some good things too, almost anyone who looks back now thinks, I had it better than kids do today.
The price of education…
One of the things that our kids did that I believe helped them to gain a respect for their education and the concept of work, was work study. We wanted our children to go to a private school. This wasn’t a prestige thing, we were a single-income family, living off of enlisted pay, but we wanted a school that had rules and structure and would hold our children accountable for their actions. In essence, we wanted a school that held our children to the same standards, rules and expectations that we had at home.
The cost of this education was a lot and we really had no idea how we would afford it, so we went to talk to the principal, and just put it out there, “we want our children to go here, this is all we make, this is what we can afford to pay and if it takes us till we are 90 to fulfill our commitment then that is what we will do.” Thankfully, they had options:  tuition assistance, Work Study where the student assisted in any number of chores around the school for so many  hours, and a gradient pay-scale (so we could make higher payments as we later generated more income).
I remember going to pick up the boys after school on one of their work study days, and one of the staff came out to speak to me. My first thought was, “Uh-oh, have they done something wrong?”  He asked if I was the boys’ mother and I hesitantly said “yes”, then he proceeded to tell me how impressed he was with their work ethic. That was of course news to me, because at home it was another story, but I thought, you know I will take that.
I know there are a lot of things I could have done better, I wish I had more of the animal instinct to have taught my kids all of the skills they would need to survive in this big bad world, maybe it would help to keep me from worrying about them as much.
The heartbreak of letting go…
The real reason that animals got it right though doesn’t have anything to do with work ethic, survival skills, self sufficiency…It is purely a selfish point of view that every parent will experience and that is the heartbreak of letting go.
We have three children, the oldest left when he was about 22-23 years old, he moved into an apartment complex.  I worried for months, what if something happened, no one would know for days, what if he just didn’t come home, what if he was homesick and lonely… I texted a lot just to see if I would get a response and know everything was ok, for today. I felt a lot better when he found his now wife, Sarah. Love you Tyler and Sarah.


A Marine Mama…
When Trent left to go into the Marines, you would think I would have at least built up a little bit of a callous for the second time around, but noooo, it was worse.  He would be in another state, his only access was through mail, so I wrote a lot.  I worried even more. What if he got injured, or what if the yelling and screaming got to him. We tried to prepare him before he left – we talked about what would happen, why they do the crazy things they do, and what were ways to deal with all of it.  When he came home from bootcamp, we were so proud of him and his accomplishment, but that day I had to drive him to the airport for his first assignment in Okinawa, ripped my heart out of my chest.  It still brings tears to my eyes, because I knew it was hard for him too. Love you Trent.
The third cub and sacrifice…
I really thought that by the time Travis left I didn’t have anymore tears to cry. Watching him pack up his things, and empty out his room was like leaving a black hole in my heart. Walking into and past that empty room everyday made it so real they were all gone. I cried for weeks and I cry to this day, remembering each time.  Love you Travis.
Each of us copes in our own ways to deal with the emptiness that is left when our children leave to live their own lives.  Until they have children of their own, they will never know the true extent of our love for them, and that the ultimate sacrifice that a parent makes is letting go, because we really don’t want to.
So, did animals get it right, for their young to leave much earlier? I’ll be honest, the first time we left to let our children to fend for themselves for a year and a half (while we took jobs in another state and kept them at home to complete their degrees), I remember thinking, ”now I know why animals let go of their young at such an early age,” because after years of laughter, hugs, kisses, joys, tears, triumphs and tribulations, I love my boys, but it hurts like hell to let them go.
Love Mom and Dad


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