On Parenting: Letting Go, Bit by Bit

Sometimes it seems that my life is dictated by clothing.  I wash, I fold, I put away… I wash, I fold, I put away again… and then a new season rolls around and I must BUY MORE CLOTHES for my little children.  As I stare down the laundry monster week after week, it seems defeating to need NEW clothing!  But, because their ankles are poking out of the bottoms of their jeans and their long sleeves have shrunken into 3/4 sleeves while hanging lifeless in their closets over the warm summer months, I must trek to Target for new threads.   My grandma used to threaten to put a brick on my head to make me stop growing, my heart screams the same threat with my own children, watching them grow is bittersweet.




Among the jean skirts, boots, puffy vests and footy pajamas, I brought home new socks for the kids.  Of course, I didn’t take the kids clothes shopping with me, because I don’t prefer a commentary from the peanut gallery about every single purchase, so I came home with a slew of full bags and empty pockets!  After discovering Zadie’s tights were too itchy and her boots were too boring, I went back to the store to return, buy and return again… by the end of the week, I was so OVER new clothes.

It was a few days (or weeks) before Daxx opened his new package of socks to try them on.  Daxx is my oldest child, he is fully self sufficient in the bathing, clothing, brushing teeth arena of adolescents.  (WHICH I LOVE!!)

It was one of those crisp fall mornings that begets warm afternoons/evenings, so he was wearing a light jacket, shorts and tennis shoes.   As he put on his new ANKLE socks, (that were a bit too big)  he proceeded to pull them as high as he could up his leg, allowing the heel of his sock to land mid calf….  In the rush of the morning, and the confusion of lunches, homework and hair gel, my hairs managed to stand on end, and my blood began to curdle, as I witnessed this atrocious crime against fashion.  I stopped all that I was doing, took his shoe off, and moved his sock to the right placement.  My heart beat regained normal rhythm, my sweat glands dried up and the morning smile returned to my face before swooshing him out the door to school.  CRISIS WAS ADVERTED!

The next day rolled around and there Daxx sat, on the floor, hiking his ankle socks to his knee, unknowingly killing his mother from the inside out.   Denver, walked by and corrected the mistake for him, quickly and quietly, and then, again, he was out the door with a look that wouldn’t invite ridicule from other 6 year olds.

This routine repeated itself over the next week.  Daxx hikes up sock, parents pulls sock down… and on and on.

Now there is something about my little Daxx you might not know.  He is very articulate.  So articulate that when he was LESS THAN A YEAR OLD, a friend walked him around the entire church building on Wednesday night making him say “avocado” to every class that met.  He has always been able to communicate his feelings, even since birth he has had an opinion.

One morning, in the middle of the “Daxx fix your sock” routine, he looked up at me, as he sat on the kitchen floor tying his shoe, and in the most sincere voice he said, “Mom, why does my sock bother you so much.  I am the one wearing the sock, not you, and I like my socks this way.”

It was as if time stood still for a spilt second and I was able to see the situation for what it had become… I was placing my own judgement and critical opinion on my son, and I wasn’t allowing him to develop independence and self expression.

And, I am sure you are thinking, “It is just a sock… and it should be worn right!”

My answer to that is, “Yes, it is JUST A SOCK”, so why am I letting it become such a huge issue to ME?!

The entire incident was more grandiose than a “sock”, it was a turning point in which I chose to “let go” and surrender some control in my child’s life.  I have become so used to controlling every aspect of his life that it is difficult to hand over control, especially in the things that don’t seem significant.  It is easy for me to ask him to make his bed, and put his dinner plate in the sink… but it is so difficult to hand over the hair gel and comb, or to let him wear his socks how he wants.   As a parent I value independence and self expression and it would be hypocritical of me to push my child in that direction, yet keep the keys of control in my possession.

My mother in law, who has taught me so much, has always said, “Parenting is a process of letting go, little bits by little bits”.  This little bit seemed really difficult to surrender.

I know those of you with older kids who are reading are nodding your heads and thinking…”Just wait”… and honestly, I don’t even want to think about it.  The Lord is so good to allow us to go through this process in steps that are doable and manageable, but it doesn’t negate the fact that they are hard, at each and every stage.  From weaning, to taking away pacis, to sending them to school, every little “bit” is hard to watch float away.  The sadness of the surrender is quickly replaced with joy and pride as we watch our little ones develop and grow into their own little persons.  I would much rather my child be true to their own self than to be a little replica of me.

Thanks for reading, and if you are going through a “letting go” phase, you are not alone.  All of us are walking through it too… bit by bit.

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