Sunday, November 27, 2011

Letting Go Takes Love

I lean over to kiss my son and he pulls away. My eyes well and my heart constricts. He’s a day shy of his thirteenth birthday. He’s been avoiding physical affection for a year now, but it doesn’t get easier for this momma, who just wants to hug and kiss her little boy. Little boy. Wouldn’t he like to hear me say this, my boy-man...

It’s hard for me to believe he’s turning thirteen. Wasn’t it yesterday that I was tripping over lego and matchbox cars and now four of my sons wear black hats. My husband and sons make half a minyan. I get a little emotional about these milestones. Just a little? I become a weepy mess.

My oldest son turned eighteen this past spring. I spent his entire birthday crying. My friend was hosting a bar mitzva party that night and it took an hour of laying in bed with cucumbers on my eyes for the swelling to come down enough for me to apply some eye makeup. What’s so hard about eighteen? Some people celebrate their children’s eighteenth birthday.

I can’t believe they’re all grown up. It’s what we pray for, that our children grow up happy and healthy. We wait for these milestones and somehow they come and I  feel like they hit me, really hard, out of left field. Whack. It feels so final, this growing up. I want a retake. I didn’t do it all the way I wanted to. I wanted to do better. They deserved better. I haven’t always exercised all the patience I possess. I haven’t always listened completely. But wait. Look at these kids. They’re great. They turned out fine. More than fine. They are finding their way in their journey of life. Discovering their true selves. Without me.

I’ve been entrusted with these precious souls and they are wholly dependent on me for the first part of their lives and as they grow up and move away from me, slowly, so slowly, I don’t realize it’s happening, but then suddenly, a milestone, and I reflect on their lives and realize that they don’t belong to me. That they never did. A part of me lives in them but they belong to themselves. They have no idea what a stronghold they have on my heart.  

So a makeup artist will come and I’ll ask her to waterproof my face. My friends and relatives will join us to celebrate, and sure, I’ll be happy and proud, but that won’t stop me from crying, my heart from breaking, or from feeling like an essential part of me is slowly slipping away, out of my grasp.

In the meantime, I’ll be grateful for a four year old that climbs all over me, plants hundreds of kisses all over my body and says “I love you” with such intensity. I will allow myself this sweet denial and refuse to believe that one day she too will be a teenager. I am still tripping over things, but now I'm tripping over dolls and shoes and ipod wires and other electronic accessories. And I know that my bar mitzva boy will come around. It may take a few months, or a little longer, but I'm pretty confident that within the next year he'll find that it's not so bad to give your mother a hug and kiss or at least tolerate her affection.

I will continuously thank G-d for entrusting me with this gift, with these cherished souls. I will persevere as I embrace this exquisite pain of motherhood, in which I do my best to hand my beautiful children the keys to my heart and the tools they need to leave me.


PS This poem brings me great comfort. Me friend Elana shared it with me. I would love to find the author and share my personal gratitude.

Letting Go Takes Love

To let go does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can't it for someone else.
To let go is not to cut myself off,
it's the realization I can't control another.
To let go is not to enable,
but allow learning from natural consequences.
To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means
the outcome is not in my hands.
To let go is not to try to change or blame another,
it's to make the most of myself.
To let go is not to care for,
but to care about.
To let go is not to fix,
but to be supportive.
To let go is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.
To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their destinies.
To let go is not to be protective,
it's to permit another to face reality.
To let go is not to deny,
but to accept.
To let go is not to nag, scold or argue,
but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.
To let go is not to criticize or regulate anybody,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.
To let go is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.

To let go is to fear less and love more
Remember: The time to love is short

~ Author Unknown


  1. first of all-mazal tov! second of all-you are an awesome mother just for being to express this, third of all-you are still young and beautiful, enjoy THESE moments because you WILL be a Bubby one day and then the wrinkles will be a little harder for that makeup artist to hide. Dont spend the Bar Mitzvah party crying, enjoy it wholeheartedly! You have a lot to be proud of.

  2. I love your blog. It is so sentimental! I agree wholeheartedly on what chanale writes.

  3. Wow Chani this is so beautiful! Makes me realize how important it is to really appreciate every little minute with my baby! Time really flies.
    Mazal Tov for Levik! Cant wait to celebrate together.

  4. just wow!!! you are totally incredible!

  5. I feel the same way! My daughter is two, and I already feel pangs of yearning for her infant stage. I don't know how I'll be when she's a teenager.

    beautifully written, i will come back and read this again and again