“Trust me, mom!” said my almost nine-year-old son, his big blue eyes begging and pleading. Like all kids, my son has some choices to make this year at school, regarding friendships and behavior. And of course, he wants big momma to back off and give him a little space to make his own decisions.
As big momma, I find myself harboring thoughts such as, “Why would I trust a nine-year-old whose brain isn’t even fully formed?” He’s still working on basic skills like flushing the toilet and combing his hair. How can he go out into the world and make well-reasoned, thoughtful decisions if he can’t even eat a cupcake without smearing it all over his (very cute) face?
Wouldn’t it be better if I just continued to make all decisions for him and control every aspect of his life? I could pick his friends (nice ones), his hobbies (golf), his career (engineer), and his wife (funny, smart brunette). After all, who knows him better than me?
Of course, DARN IT, I know it is time to let go, smidge by smidge. I have to let the rope out, little by little, and have faith that we have given him the tools and wherewithal to make good choices. I have to show him that we have confidence in him, that we actually think he is capable of going into the world, being brave and kind, and flushing the toilet.
But there’s another crucial step after that, and it’s the one that befuddles me and pulls me off the tracks time and time again: I have to be willing to let him mess up. Not only do I need to let the rope out, but I have to accept that it’s not always going to be pretty.
I have to let go of the idea of perfection or else that rope will choke us both. He’s going to mess up, he’s going to make some bad choices, and then he’s going to have to fumble and sludge through the consequences. I have to let him make some bad choices and fall on his face.
It’s uncomfortable, but that discomfort will be what pushes him (and me!) to grow and discover his character and potential. And when he gets off track, I will be there to nudge him back onto the path. When he makes good decisions, I will be there to celebrate with pizza and cupcakes (that will undoubtedly end up all over his face).
You see, I’m not the only one writing the script anymore. He’s the star of the show, and it’s time for him to start writing his own story. I just have a supporting role, to help him make sense of it all and connect the dots in a way that gives him a solid foundation.
I’m letting go, and it’s hard, because I love him and secretly want to shove him back into my uterus. But the pain of letting go is tempered with my excitement over seeing where he will go and who he will become.
“Trust me, mom,” says my dear son, his eyes full of hope. Yes, I will try, and with faith in my heart, I let the rope out, just a smidge.