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There’s one non-negotiable requirement in being a mom: there are times when we find ourselves with no other option but to let go.  We let go of expectations and we let go of control again and again.  Expectations of how it will be to be pregnant, to breastfeed, to parent our kids through each new developmental phase, to be grandparents.  Control over when they sleep, how they eat, what they gravitate towards, the career they choose.  As someone once said, we give our children two things: roots and wings.
And this letting go is one of the most profoundly gratifying lessons there is.

In letting go, we allow the tight grip of our mind to relax, which invites the possibility of being truly present to what is.  Often we hold onto ideas about our children and about parenting, and even when these ideas don’t fit our reality, we continue to cling to them.  Some of these ideas are “shoulds“, which come from someone or someplace other than ourselves.  Some of them are borrowed ideas that don’t really ring true for us, when we stop to examine them more deeply.  And some of them were applicable at one point in the past, but they really aren’t any more.

In letting go, we show ourselves mercy.  This is a beautiful thing, and it feels so good.  When we let go of expectations and control, even in teeny little doses, we allow ourselves to be human.  Not perfect, not meeting someone else’s standards.  Just real.  We ease up on ourselves, which in turn opens up space in our relationships with our children.  Sometimes a longer leash gives us a more profound bond with our kids.

In letting go with our kids, we learn to let go in our own lives.  There are expectations we hold for ourselves that no longer feel healthy, and control we unnecessarily exert over aspects of our lives that keeps us small and rigid.  We perfectionists keep ourselves from enjoying satisfaction because of that small voice that wants us to do more, have more, be more.  Letting go of the unhelpful influences we keep inside and shooing the overly critical “helpers” to the back of the bus helps us find joy and fulfillment right here, right now.  It’s amazing what shows up when we clear the way by letting go.

One of my coaching clients recently experienced letting go with her tween daughter.  The two of them have totally opposite personalities, and my client recognized that she was treating her daughter as if she had the same internal compass.  Then she realized how futile it was to ask her daughter to behave in ways that weren’t true to her daughter’s values.  It was hard, but she relinquished some of the hard-fought control she’d been holding onto.  She allowed her daughter more room to be herself, even though the behaviors are uncomfortable for my client to be around.  And I’m sure you all know what happened.  Yup, they found a new way to be together - easier and without the constant friction of squaring off against each other.  She found, as well, a renewed appreciation for her own strengths and qualities.

Where are you holding the leash too tight?  What might happen if you looked at your relationships with your children, small and/or grown, with new eyes?  And what about the primary relationship in your life, your relationship with yourself.  How many too-short leashes are there?  What new freedom can you grant yourself?

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