Originally published on July 30, 2009 at m a m a :: m i l i e u.
Okay, yes those are lyrics to a 1985 Sting song, but they rang oh-so-true today when I came across a quote on my igoogle page. I have a daily literary quote rss feed on my google homepage. Yesterday, it featured a quote from American Poet, Mary Oliver, and all I could think about after reading it was “that lady must have kids.”
The quote went something like this:
“To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”
I hate to reveal that it was only after watching “Benjamin Button” recently that I first had a paralyzing realization that I was indeed mortal. No, I didn’t think that I was a superhero or a downy white unicorn bathed in light before watching the film, I just hadn’t really given the dreary subject much thought.
It wasn’t until seeing poor ol’ Benji aging in reverse–from a wrinkled and crippled infant to a wrinkled and crippled old man–that I truly came face-to-face with the fact that I am nurturing the next generation–someone who will only be budding into puberty just as I will be waning into the second half of life. I will be grey and he will be pimply. I will be mom and he will be my rebellious teen. I will be Grandma and he will be Dad. I will be a memory and he will be Grandpa.
Your 20’s aren’t really a time when you waste much energy thinking about your inevitable and eventual end–you are just beginning what will hopefully be a long and successful life as an adult. Not even turning 30 this year changed all of that.
Having a baby did, however. Now, several times a day, I am saddened by the reality of time’s quick passing. At nights when I am rocking my sweet suckling baby as he drinks and sniffles at my breast, I already envision the time, not very far off from now, when those gentle quiet moments of pure raw love and mutual dependence will come to an end.
And my breast will eventually return to me. And from my breast, I will have to let him go. On to a sippy cup. On to a big boy cup. On to a fork and spoon.
While my eye is pressed to the camera’s viewfinder, I can feel time ticking each minute into the past and imagine my husband, myself and our son years from now watching what I am recording at that moment–laughing at our “dated” hair styles, cars, furniture, clothes–things which are for us now new and modern.
And, our home will return to us. And from our home, we will have to let him go. On to college. On to his own home. On to his own life.
There will come a time that I will have to let him go–let him flutter on without my constant guidance, nurturing, or intervention. And the time is coming sooner rather than later. The independence has already begun. I am preparing now for the”letting go”.
Joni is a first time mommy, former teacher and lover of all things writing and cooking. She enthusiastically blogs about the pleasures and perils of natural mommying and wholesome organic cooking for your little foodie over at: www.mamamilieu.blogspot.com and www.feedinglittlefoodies.blogspot.com.
5 thoughts on “If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free.”
I am finding the letting go part hard right now. My girl is 3 and everything is “ME DO IT!” and I have to give in (if it is safe) and it is hard. She is my only child, the only one I could have…and she is growing up too quickly.
Let’s all turn back to our own parents and give them those extra-long hugs, those “just because” phone calls, those heart to heart conversations. The things we hope we have with our kids – when they get older – be sure to give them to our own parents, watching us growing older, growing further away, constantly having to let us go, and go, and go.
Sob! I know exactly how you feel. So beautifully written and articulated.
Twelve years ago I was where you are now. My daughter was nursing one minute and the next she didn’t want to nurse anymore. I was devastated because I wanted that bonding to continue. Little did I know that the time we did have would carry us through an incredible journey of heartache, bad relationships, and currently new beginnings.
The time does pass quickly and letting go is hard, but you are insightful enough to prepare yourself for the changes to come. Letting go is an intermittent process. They come and go several times throughout their development so you get to welcome them back again and again.
I was just talking about this same phenomenon with a fellow parent who has a daughter a few months older than my 16 month old son. It was in a slightly different context however. We were talking about her daughter’s latest game which is to run towards the street so that her parents will chase her. I commented on how her daughter’s feeling of immortality would continue well past being a toddler and knowing to look both ways before crossing the street. We agreed that you have to become a parent to truly realize your own mortality. Until you have see the next generation life is an unending road.