Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hold On and Let Go: Advanced Motherhood 301A

Motherhood's life lessons are packed with so much emotional baggage and other tumult (biologic and otherwise) that it is easy to miss the universality of the experiences.  The course I am offering is for mothers and other adventurers: those ready to hold on tight for the wild ride, all the while letting go. 

This is how to excel both as Mom and equestrian, riding soft in the saddle, like the dressage method of horseback riding. A good dressage rider appears to be balanced and in control, without tugging the reins, without digging in with her heels or tensing the knees.  It is a type of riding that requires a intuitive understanding of one's horse and much courage.  Just like the wild ride of motherhood.

Mothering is the art of holding on and letting go.  We had a nice visit with our youngest this month for a couple of weeks, a brief but refreshing camping adventure at Cape Lookout, and a gentle reminder of how parents of grown men must receive their sons: with open arms and keeping them open no matter how hard we want to lock them into our embrace, tell them everything we know and wish they wouldn't learn the hard way, when we want to save them from every pitfall.  It is impossible to protect them anymore, but it is also inadvisable.  Life teaches more enduring lessons.

We have but two sons, who to our joy love each other without reservation.  They seem to love us, too.  That is really all that need be, all other ambitions pale in comparison.  Our sons are learning all they need to learn as adults on their own terms, according to their own destinies, and in their own time.  I know what I hope for them.

I hope for them a life full of meaning and love: of good relationships with others and with the earth, of good work and creative fulfillment, of responsibility and gentleness, and spiritual awareness.  I hope that they will know how loved they have been from the very beginning of their lives and with that knowledge trust themselves: to make mistakes as well as to take calculated risks that expand their horizons.  

I pray for them, too.  I pray for love and meaning and health in all aspects of their lives.  I pray they will always call on God for their hope and meaning, while striving to take responsibility for their own choices and actions.  I pray for good love relationships that lead to family and community, however that may manifest.

I pray for myself, too: that while I let go, I hold on enough to be always accessible when truly needed in the least interfering, least invasive way possible.  I pray to make something of my own life to make them proud and to give them hope that one can always rebuild, change and renew.

So now, not long after sending my youngest across multiple time zones, not knowing when the next visit will be, I hold onto to my courage and let go.  And that, my friend, is no easy thing -- no matter how often I practice, a little piece of my heart always breaks off and follows.


  1. Claire,
    Sierra is in Ecuador, Laurel in New Hampshire and David in Africa. I feel like several pieces of my heart are roaming the world with them. Your writing reminds me of what is important, expresses what I too believe and feel for my grown children, and gives me courage to continue to open my arms in welcome and farewell. Thanks.

  2. Beautiful post, I've yet to say goodbye to either of their physical beings, but I've witnessed much change in our years together. While it isn't the same, it has taught me to hold on tentatively as opposed to tenaciously to lives which come from me, yet are not mine. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Thank you. Isn't motherhood something?

  4. This post expresses some of the exquisitely poignant aspects of motherhood and a wonderful philosophy. It is very moving. Thank you for sharing.
    "Let us give our children roots and wings".
    ps: I love looking at this photo, and I think you are growing to be a very wise woman.

  5. Thank you for the post, i liked reading it, keep posts like this coming.

    Nicole using Medela symphony these days.


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