He took my hand. I could feel his eager and anxious anticipation. We started out together on that walk to school. It was the first day of KINDERGARTEN! Where had the time gone? No longer my baby or toddler, my little boy was growing up.

I was anxious, just like my son. How would this first day be for him? I yearned for it to be just right. How I wanted to protect him from any and all of those school time hurts. Emotions of sadness and excitement, joy and fear fought within me. On the outside, I was calm, supportive and encouraging as a parent is “supposed” to be.

Fast forward thirteen years later. It was again time for another milestone and another letting go – COLLEGE! That summer had been a whirlwind of graduation celebration, preparation and packing. Here we were at last, in a postage sized dorm room. Everything had been brought in. It was time to say good-bye.

We shared the same eager and anxious anticipation, just as on that first day of kindergarten. Again that sadness of letting go mingled with excitement and pride in seeing my child come to this new rite of passage. I was apprehensive about my son’s adjustment and my own as well.

What would our relationship be like now? How was my identity changing in response to the house being quieter and emptier in his absence. I was entering that empty nest phase and I couldn’t believe how I had gotten there!

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Kindergarten and College, so many years ago and yet so vivid and fresh in my mind. The gift of letting go so that a child can spread his or her wings is one that parents need to give over and over again. A mother’s fierce desire to protect is at odds with the necessity of letting go so that her child can learn to grow.

The summer is waning. Vacation time is just about at an end and new beginnings are fast approaching. If your child is headed to Kindergarten, Middle School, High School, College and beyond, it is a time of letting go, so they can plant their roots of responsibility and fly with wings of independence.

What can you do to help you through your own letting go as you give your child the gift of independence?

1. Feel your emotions with patience and understanding that it is a time of letting go for you.

2. Let your love, pride and joy in your child’s life passage be a time of celebration of his or her growth and your thoughtful parenting.

3. Look for new paths for you to explore and grow.

4. Make this a time of self-discovery for you, just as it is a time of self-discovery for your child.

5. The ending of one phase of being a “MOM” is also the beginning of new connections to your child.

6. Share your own growth with your adult child and open up new avenues of bonding and conversation.

7. Yes, you will always be “MOM”. You can grow the connection by listening and acknowledging wherever your child is in his or her life journey.

What has helped you in your journey of parenthood? Where are your strengths and where are your roadblocks? Let’s have a conversation about this. Add your comments below. I’d love to know what you think!