Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How I let go of my son's hand

The forest where my son killed dinos and deer
People are always eager to give advice. For example, "you should feed your child food at 6 months" or "your child should be potty trained by 3 years." You can find advice on every corner, especially in Holland, where it takes a village, the village next door and the village next to that to raise a child.

But there are things that people don't tell you. Important things, like when should you let up on the reins and give your child to the world. The moment you set them free and trust that they come back and in one piece. You know, like letting them walk around the block by themselves or trusting them to play outside alone.

I might sound like an over-protective mama, but this has been very difficult for me to do. You see, when my son was four years old we lost him at the beach for two hours. It was the worst two hours of my life. After the first hour that he was missing, I was already starting to mourn him. His short life was flashing before my eyes. When I finally collapsed in tears onto the sand, I got a call that he had come back to the where we had last seen him.

Ever since, I have kept the leash short, but now he is 5 1/2 years old and I can see him turning into a little boy more and more each day. I can feel the world drawing him into its pull and begging him to come explore. 

Its scary. I'm scared to death. I wanna keep my baby boy safe and hold him close. I know how bad it is out there. I know the world is filled with bad people who would hurt my sweet, sweet boy. I also know, what the world has given me: the adventures, the fun, the memories. Of course, I have crossed paths with bad things and bad people, but I thank god my parents instilled in me the feeling to not be drawn into it. They gave me a safe environment so that I had the confidence to believe in my intuition about people.

But I am not my mom, she knew what to do. Sometimes I have to reassure myself I am a mother of not only one but two human beings on this planet. I still feel like I am seven and these two little ones are just over grown Cabbage Patch dolls that poop and pee and talk.

Yet, this weekend I was forced to face this dilemma. I had to make a choice: do I let go of his hand or do I hold on tight and deprive him of an experience of a lifetime?

I let go. I let him roam the camp ground with a new friend he made while camping on a farm this past weekend. We were with a group of about 30/40 people and tons of kids. Kids running wild, in the big dark forest, in the overgrown pastures, around the old haphazard farm. I could see danger everywhere and I could see strangers everywhere. But I saw my son. I saw the look on his face when he asked if he could roam the fields with his new friend. I saw my baby turning into a boy and I knew it was time to let go. 

I have to admit, the first of the three days I spent wandering around every hour checking to see if he was ok. And every time, I had a heart attack. I wasn't able to find him right away and I visualized the Amber Alert on Facebook. I started listing what he had on that day and where I last saw him. 

The second day I spent half the time worrying and by the third day I had only sent out the Amber Alert maybe 3 times. We were in the car on the way home after the camping weekend and my son started telling me all about his adventures "deer hunting" in the fields and about the "dinosaurs he killed with his spear in the forest". He went on for an hour telling me all about his new friend and the places they discovered, things I would have never known. But most importantly, experiences he would have never had if I hadn't let go of his hand.

I could feel the tears rolling down my cheeks as I remembered holding him in my arms just after he was born and telling him I would never let go. But these weren't sad tears, these were proud tears, not only proud of him but proud of myself. I let go of my baby's hand and he grabbed it back as a little boy.


  1. Oh can so relate to this! Torn between head and heart as a mother. Great post!!

    1. Thanks so much Amanda! My heart hurts when I think about letting him go again, but I know I have to keep being brave. Ahhhh the joys of motherhood!

  2. I almost cried when I read your post. This is my future... I too have a little boy now, and in just a few years, he will want to roam free as well. And I can see that already in my girls, who are slowly approaching your son's age... Beautifully written, thank you!

    1. Hi Olga Thanks! My daughter is younger but its so easy to let her have a little freedom, I think girls are different (until they become teenagers. But boysss...get ready!! : - )

  3. Beautifully said. Thank you.


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