How Do I Let Go of My Kids?

IMG_3246You may remember the song, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand whose lyrics speak to a failed relationship where one party stops doing all of the romantic and heartfelt gestures that once defined their love. This song popped into my head as I was clearing out my attic the other day.

Call me crazy, but this is how my mind works. I see or experience everyday things and look to find a deeper lesson so I can improve my life in some way, mostly improve my parenting skills. This is the purpose of my blog and the reason I share my insights with readers like you.

For months, I’ve been vacillating between either doing a tag sale or donating the contents of my attic. The weight of the world seemed to be on my shoulders with this decision. My internal conversations went something like this:

“I can’t just give my stuff away. I paid a lot of money for these things. But doing a tag sale is so much work and people just want stuff for free anyway.”

Back and forth for weeks. Even my daughter was admonishing me to just give it away. (I think she was just sick of me talking about it non-stop!)

By chance, I saw an advertisement for a local elementary school looking for tag sale vendors. The cost for the table was reasonable and since it was benefiting kids, I thought it would be a win-win.

I took a day off from work and began the preparations. With the help of my ex-husband and his truck, broken and useless items were off to the dump.  Next I headed to my attic and started to sort and pack those things that I thought would be best-sellers.

At one point during this process, I sat down in the middle of my attic and looked around. While I had certainly made oodles of progress, there was still a lot more to do. I was paralyzed with overwhelm. Do I just pack everything up and drive to Big Brothers Big Sisters? Do I leave it for another day?

I decided to pull a Scarlett O’Hara and said to myself, “I’ll think about it tomorrow.” I closed the attic door and never looked back. (While I typically don’t recommend ignoring your problems, that advice does not apply to attics stuffed to the brim. Ignorance can truly be bliss.)

As I packed my once-treasured items into boxes, I couldn’t help but think that these goodies once meant the world to me. Now, I was ready to sell them to the highest bidder.

At the end of the day, the only thing that made its way back into my car was my daughter’s pre-teen bedroom comforter set. Why?

On the surface, there’s a lot of money to be made from all the ‘stuff’ jammed into that plastic bag. If I look deeper, those blankets, curtains, and wall art represent my daughter’s childhood and maybe on some level, I didn’t want to let it go.


I didn’t want to let go of the invitations for morning cuddles and bedtime conversations snuggled in that comforter.  I didn’t want to face the fact that friends and FaceTime have taken my place and are clearly more important than me in her life.

As if my banishment from her room wasn’t enough, lately, I’ve been smacked in the face with other truths that my daughter is not a child anymore.

At the ripe age of 14, I’m being shown that my worth to her is diminishing minute by minute. She needs no help dressing or figuring out homework problems. No advice from me on whether she should try out for basketball or stay academically focused. I’m not even needed to prepare a basic meal for her.

But wait! Isn’t this what I’ve wanted all along? Hasn’t this been the very thing I’ve been trying to accomplish? Isn’t my role and the role of any parent to work ourselves out of our jobs?

By delegating tasks to her, coaching her through various trials, and showing her basic life skills, I feel fairly confident that should I leave this earth unexpectedly, she’d be ok. In fact, she’d likely be more than ok.

It’s all about letting go, isn’t it? While certainly letting go of a living room lamp does not compare to letting go of my daughter’s childhood, it’s still the same theory.  So today, in addition to depositing my tag sale profits into the bank, I will be making another deposit – to the Big Brothers Big Sisters donation bin. As I drop off my daughter’s bedroom décor, I will turn the page of my baby girl’s childhood and look forward to a bright and blessed future for her.

Jen’s Gem: In order to move on to the next chapter of your life story, you have to turn the page and let go of what once was.

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