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Letting Go

My parents have raised my brothers and I to be independent people. That was somewhat intentional but also somewhat unavoidable. Although both of my parents had jobs, our family had very little money. That meant that they could hardly afford a sitter but also couldn’t be home with us themselves. That left my brothers and I lots of time to roam the neighborhood and get into all sorts of trouble. We were allowed to make our own mistakes and were forced to deal with the consequences on our own.

By independent, I do not mean that I do not rely on other people. I mean that I can make do on my own and adjust to new situations better than many people I know. However, I am aware of my own limitations as well as my desire to connect with other people.

I moved to Orange County nearly two years ago. Prior to the move, I had been married for quite a while and had allowed many relationships to drift away so that I could focus on my family. I did maintain a handful of friendships but made no effort to create new ones. When I moved to OC, I was suddenly without my friends and shortly thereafter was without my wife. That made my two kids my new best friends. I am still re-learning how to make new friends and have actually made a stronger effort to stay in touch with some of my long-distance friends but, for the most part, have been content to just spend as much quality time with my kids as possible.

There is a dilemma in all of this: I have grown to depend on my kids and they on me. Sure, they are young and I don’t need my apartment manager complaining to me about a window that my son broke, but I feel a transition happening. Tomorrow night, Joshua will have his second sleepover at a friend’s house. In itself, it may not be a big deal but it’s a sign of something bigger. I have slowly begun to allow Joshua the same freedoms that I had at his age. He now roams the neighborhood regularly without adult supervision. I am letting him be responsible for himself.

I am also giving my 3-yr-old daughter more responsibility. She had a lot of trouble during her initial potty training and is having some trouble again, and it stems from my habit of doing everything for her. I had started noticing that she would claim to be hungry when all she really wanted was for daddy to do something for her, anything. I am learning now how not to answer to her every whim.

This is all rather painful for me. I love my kids and I know someday I will look back and wish that I had spent even more time with them. On the other hand, I want them to grow to be adults who can cope with the real world and all that it throws at them.

As they slowly creep away from my nest, I have to trust God more and more to watch over them for me. I cannot be with them all of the time and I will not be around forever.

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