By TMoM Team Member Ellen Bryant Lloyd
“Moms never let go first.”
I will never forget my mom speaking these words into my ear as she gave me a huge, especially meaningful hug.
She had waited until I saw her in person to share a positive medical report, then gave me one of her signature, tight hugs. I am all about long hugs, but hers seemed especially long this time, so long that I started wondering if she was okay or if she had gotten emotional.
While continuing the embrace, I asked, “Are you okay?
She replied, “I’m waiting for you to let go first.”
“What do you mean?”
“I never let go first when I hug my children. Moms never let go first. My mom didn’t and I never do either.”
Chills rushed over my body with the instant realization that I did the same thing. From the first hug with each of my children, I have never let go first. I always release my embrace after they release theirs.
The funny thing is that I never noticed this about my mom or grandmother, nor did anyone ever tell me that this might be something I may want to consider as a mom. To me, it intuitively felt like the “right” thing to do, although I did not give it much thought. It is just something I did.
“Follow the Child”
This experience made me think about Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, educator and innovator who created an educational method founded on the principle, “follow the child, but follow the child as his leader.”
Although it may be hard at times, I believe it is important to let children decide when they are ready to try something new or let something go. To branch out and explore a new area or wait a little longer because they are not quite ready. Children need positive role models, parental encouragement and to be shown examples of what it looks like to make good choices and do the right thing, but following their lead seems to me to make the most sense in the big picture of helping them to grow into their full, best selves.
I believe children with opportunities to be internally motivated and guided are more attuned to following their internal compass as adults. They will naturally make good decisions, treat people well and live a life that is in alignment with having strong morals and values.
“Moms never let go first”
I doubt my mom or grandmother consciously made the connection with never releasing their hugs first to raising independent, self-sufficient children who become happy, successful adults, but I truly believe the connection is real. It seems to me that letting our children let go first is a signal that we trust their timing for what is right for them.
Even though my children are now adults, I still never let go first. Every hug from them is a wonderful gift that I cherish. Besides, I am their mom and as my mom said, “Moms never let go first.”
Ellen Bryant Lloyd is a writer and mom of two children, one who has flown from the nest and the other is not far from it. She blogs about perspectives on life and parenting at mindfulmom.wordpress.com and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue, a freelance writer and memoir ghostwriter. Ellen lives in Greensboro with her husband, her daughter, when she is home from college, and the sweetest dog ever. She looks forward to seeing her son, who is now living and working in a nearby metropolitan city, as often as possible.