Letting Go

May 07, 2024

My mother is a never-ending song in my heart of comfort, happiness and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune.

—Graycie Harmon, author

Today’s newsletter is about letting go, which I have a front row seat to right now.  It’s my first Mother’s Day without my mom. And in less than a week, we move our daughter, Ellen, across the country to begin her post-college life.  The need to let go is being thrust upon me from all directions. And since I can’t out-run it, I’m trying hard to understand it. As is often the case for me, these feelings are complicated by disability. Let me explain.

person holding white balloons near white wall

Letting go of my beloved mom continues to challenge me daily. I welcome the tears as they come and go, but I never stop missing her. Many readers know this type of grief, I’m sure, and I’m sorry for your heartache. Losing a mom at any age is so damn hard.

Letting go of our children requires entirely different muscles and a mindset I’ve yet to fully master. As we prepare to pack up, pull out and physically relocate our daughter, I find myself reflecting often on Ellen’s childhood. On all she’s been through and conquered. I’m both sad to see her leave our nest and elated that she is ready to fly. Managing such mixed emotions is not my super power, but I’m learning to live in this space and welcome all the feels. Doing so reminds me of the successful letting go I’ve already mastered in life. So here comes the part about disability. 

For mothers of individuals with special needs, letting go is especially hard.  After all, we spend most of our time “hanging on” and trying to keep our heads above water — to accomplish everything life requires and help our loved ones learn to help themselves. But letting go is vital to our success and theirs. It forces us to build a community of support, accept that other people may not do things exactly as we would, and trust them to help anyway. Our happiness and self-preservation depend on this. So do our children, no matter what age.

Our son, Andrew, turned 27 last week. It amazes me he’s that old and also that he’s learned to let go of needing us so much. I’m pretty thrilled that we have learned to let go of him in important ways, too. As a result, Andrew is creating an independent life in which he still needs and wants his parents’ help but is also garnering support from others. He truly loves the life he’s building separate from his dad and me, which includes mistakes and frustrations that he owns and learns from. I know many of his peers are equally delighting themselves and their families with similar success as young adults. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.

Andrew reunited at his apartment last week with Ellen and their older brother, Henry, for a spontaneous birthday visit that I played no role in planning or executing. They texted me this photo, and I realized that letting go of one thing helps us grab on to another. It’s a cheesy metaphor, but it makes my heart happy. And that’s especially nice this Mother’s Day.

HBD to Andrew. HMD to me.

I plan to fill the next issue of Another Normal with helpful information and resources on recreation, religion and more. Until then, Happy Mother’s Day and happy letting go. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Interested in learning more about one-to-one coaching? Contact Kris for information on what this might look like for you, including outcomes, availability, fees and more.

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