By TMoM Team Member JamillahNeeairah Nasir “Mama J”

We all know that letting go is a very necessary part of the parenting process, but the effect these changes have on us can be devastating to the way we see ourselves and the value we place on what we’ve done for our children.

If we don’t get the appreciation we feel we deserve for what we’ve done, parenting can feel like it was a colossal waste of our time, although we probably wouldn’t dare say it aloud for fear of judgment. This can be especially true of mothers, who often perform the lion’s share of what’s required to raise children. When I speak with mothers, I’m not at all surprised by the untold amount of grief they experience as they watch their children grow up and start to need less and less hands-on nurturing. Nobody told them they’d feel as if they’re being penalized and stripped of their honor, along with their responsibilities.

We have so much control over what happens in the lives of our young people as they’re growing up, it can come as a shock the first time they defy us. We can do nothing about it, but we still worry when they pick up unsavory characters and take on poor habits. But, what’s even more troubling is when they stop sharing the intimate details of their lives altogether. We start out thinking perhaps it’s all a phase, but as it drags on, we wonder if there’s something we did wrong in our parenting. So by the time they get around to blaming us for every horrible thing that’s ever happened in their lives, we conclude that perhaps we are as terrible as they say. But the good news is that, more often than not, after only a few short years of managing their own lives, they discover how hard it really is, and they’re ready to extend some mercy and let us back into their world—as an advisor, not as a manager. And that’s as it should be!

Because here’s the truth: the role of mothering is not static, but the title is!

You’ll always be a mother even when your hands become free of the daily responsibilities of the job. The embodiment of the role and the act of mothering are not necessarily interchangeable. One is a noun, and one is a verb. One requires that you just be and the other suggests that there’s always something more you should do—and really, there isn’t! And you’ll do yourself a huge favor and save yourself some time, heartache, and therapy sessions if you remember that. Releasing one experience allows you to fully embrace the other in a way that’s meaningful to everyone concerned. It goes much smoother when we understand the subtle differences between the two.

Once you feel confident you’ve set all the right things in motion, all that’s left is to watch, with great interest as life unfolds—yours and theirs. Take this time to put your hands and heart to work elsewhere in your world. Remain available to assist with making choices that will keep everything on track. It takes some time to get adjusted to this new rhythm, but again, that’s as it should be! Life’s dance requires that you listen closely for when the music changes and that you keep your feet moving!

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