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Apodaca: Summer signals a time to let go

June 10, 2011|By Patrice Apodaca

June is a time of changes. All over Newport-Mesa, families enjoy the beginning of summer. Children finish another year of school, graduation ceremonies are held, and plans for the future are made.

I often tell my two sons that change happens whether we invite it or not, and it's up to us to make the most of it. Why then is it so hard sometimes to accept the constant onslaught of challenges that parenthood brings?

Just when it seems that we've adapted to one phase we find ourselves once again thrust into unfamiliar territory. The first steps, first day of school, first date — these are the milestones by which we measure the progress of our children's lives and test our ability to cope with unending transformation.

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Forgive me, dear readers, for my musings on the nature of parenthood and change. I am facing transitions with both my boys.

My younger son — egad! — just got his driver's license, and I'm still adjusting to watching him walk out the door without me, and waiting for the sound of his car pulling back into the driveway.

And my older son, who just completed his third year of college, will for the first time not be coming home for the summer — which really means, if I am brutally honest with myself, that his home is no longer with me.

I do my darnedest to accept these changes with grace, though I'm not always successful. I try to smile and convey fortitude when inside my head I'm screaming, "I'm not ready!"

Wasn't it just yesterday when I blissfully held my newborn boys in my arms and kissed their tiny faces a thousand times, promising that I'd always be there for them? Why, in heaven's name, did I not consider the inevitability that they would one day leave me?

That is the essence of parenthood, after all. Our job is to prepare our children to leave us, to be strong and confident enough to venture out in the world and forge their own paths. Letting go should feel natural, like silently lifting that steadying hand from the back of a child's bike.

Yet nothing about parenthood is ever as straightforward as we imagine it should be. We live with the niggling thought that we're on borrowed time; that our role as parents, while lifelong, is maddeningly changeable.

Like earthquakes, those changes can strike without warning, catching us unaware. During my son's freshman year in college, he once greeted me at his dorm room door with the news that he'd gone skydiving. Zap! The ground had shifted again.

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