Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The pain of letting go

How to pull myself out of the doldrums?  I feel like utter crap because DJ's brother is going through a hard time.  So while today's entry isn't pertinent solely to the issue of transgenderism, it is pertinent to raising kids, teenagers and young adults.  More than that, I think it may be my therapy.

"Oh, it's so much worse when they're older," a friend of mine remarked to me 10 years ago back when a tube of Clearasil was not yet a required product in our household.  I couldn't fathom it.  "You can't fix it anymore," she continued, "when they're little, mommy can make anything better."  OMG-was she ever right.

Not to diminish the hardships of raising children who throw tantrums in the mall or who just can't get the hang of potty training-that too is a tough row to hoe.  But this is a marrow deep ache that I feel everywhere and there isn't a thing I can do to help my son.  He must figure these things out on his own.  In spite of how much I want to text him and check up on him, I've managed to only do it once in the last hour, and am currently fighting the urge to do it again.

But he sounded so upset when we spoke over an hour ago.  He's learning to live in the adult world and the last couple of months have been tough.  He doesn't have the hang of it yet:  the ability to manage his time or money well, the ability to say "no" when it will save him stress, the ability to withstand chronic stress and deadlines, and the ability to bounce back well from failure.  Did I not teach him well?  Will he figure it out on his own?  And what the heck will I do when even greater heartaches come his way?

Letting go-truly the hardest thing in the world about being a parent.  Holding on tight-I can do that all the live long day, well into the night, and right into the next day-no sweat.  I know what I'm doing when it comes to holding on:  I cuddle, I comfort, I fix, I instruct, I make the hurt recede, I bolster confidence and help them to their feet again. But this letting go thing-it requires doing so much less, but is so much more demanding of my heart.  I don't know how to do it well and doubt I ever will.  Maybe that's just as well since to become good at it means I may have to lose some empathy in the process, I suspect.  Knowing that my empathy makes me suck at letting go brings me little comfort at the moment, however.  It just hurts.  Period.

I don't know if I can go through this again.  Especially with DJ.  I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I think seeing my darling girl go through these young adult growing pains may even be harder than watching my darling boys go through it ; and  navigating romance as a transgender person may involve even more challenges than for those whose minds and bodies agree; I don't even want to contemplate seeing her go through kissing a bunch of frogs until she finds her perfect prince or princess. It's too much for a mother to bear-or at least for this mother.

But in the end, good mothers have  to bear it, right? We have to find a way to bear it, somehow.  So I will close with another remembrance of my father in one of his few tender moments, when I cried, "I thought this would get easier."  What he said as he hugged me was, "It doesn't."  What he didn't say, but I could feel in his hug was, "But you'll get through it."  Since I can't hold onto my kid right now, I'll hold onto that.