This year has been a year of radical transition in my relationship with my teenage daughter, Oriel. She started dating, she has been learning to drive, she became an upperclassmen, and she recently turned 16 and got her license. More and more we are talking about college and what the next chapter of her life will look like. There have been a lot of moments in there that have been absolutely celebratory. For example, right now I am not rushing out the door to pick her up from school because she can drive herself home, which is a wonderful thing after being a chauffeur for 16 years.
However, I’ve also been feeling her pushing away. She is preparing to launch herself out into adulthood and I haven’t always welcomed that to be quite honest. There have been moments that it’s been messy and moments that it’s been painfully hard. I know for those of you whose kids are younger, you often start to tear up when I talk about my child being so close to leaving the household and heading off to college. However, mother nature has a wonderful gift to give us as parents before that occurs. First, we get to live with an adolescent inside of our home for several years and after you get scowled at for the seventeenth time that week for no good reason, you start to grow more and more accustomed to the idea that maybe we don’t have to share space every single day, and maybe that will be okay.
The Power of Meditation
Things have been shifting between Oriel and I and I often use meditation activities to really center myself and go deeper. One day in a meditation, it became very clear to me that I have to let go of her. Otherwise I am going to end up driving her away. The great thing about meditation is, it bypasses the surface mind where we have so much fear based thinking and instead it helps us go deeper to the wisdom that we all hold in our subconscious mind. Once I recognized that I needed to let go of her, I knew that I had to chart a path forward and figure out how to do that. However, the first thing I had to do was grieve. I’m not grieving the loss of a child, it doesn’t hurt nearly that much, but I had to grieve the end of an era. The era in which this child needs a mommy is over and I had to come to terms with that and go through my own sadness and experience first.
What Will ‘Pushing Away’ Look Like?
Then, I had to define what it would look like to allow her to push her away, to allow her to have more autonomy, and to allow her to have more space. How would I define that on practical terms? What I decided is I would break it into the different areas of her life. Each area would be treated differently based on her competency in that area. Now, Oriel is a super cool, very responsible kid (I know, weird that she turned out that way), so in the areas of academics and her dating relationship, she actually has things dialed in there and she is conducting herself really well. I decided to take 4 steps back and give her more autonomy and less input from Mom on those areas. However, there are some other areas that she is still very new and somewhat naïve to. Driving and learning about money are two examples. With those areas, I am taking a much closer approach. I’m sticking by her side and giving her a lot more coaching and direction until she reaches a level of competency. We have essentially just made it up and we are taking it one area at a time.
With that, my child is shoving off just like a boat shoves off away from a dock headed out on an exciting new adventure.