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Amanda Lamb: Letting go

Posted June 27, 2010

Recently my daughters started a sport called knee-boarding. It involves kneeling on a small surfboard-like apparatus, strapping your legs in to the board and holding onto a ski rope behind a speed boat. I grew up water skiing, but have now adopted this new sport along with my daughters.

My older daughter, who is 10, mastered it almost immediately. She is a natural athlete with long strong arms and legs capable of almost anything she puts her mind to. Still, I perch nervously on the back of the boat watching her as she bobs violently on top of the wake. I watch closely for her hand signals, preparing to tell my husband that she is ready to stop, or is down the second her hands leave the rope. My eyes never leave her for a second as I watch her go under the waves and then re-surface seconds later. I hold my arms in the air and wait for her to mimic me. I want to make sure other boat drivers see her. I scan the horizon for other boats anxiously as we circle back around to pick her up. She almost always gets back on the boat with a smile, begging us to let her have one more turn.

This past weekend, my younger daughter tried and succeeded in getting up. I have to admit, I was skeptical. She is not normally as bold as her older sister is. But with her big sister's help, she got up and stayed up for several long runs. The entire time she beamed with pride, grinning from ear to ear with every additional second that she was able to navigate the choppy water. I stood in the back of the boat amazed, cheering and clapping at her accomplishment. When she fell, I immediately jumped into the water and swam towards her, reaching for her little hand to pull her back to the boat.

"I can do it, Mommy," she said with a smile, letting go of my hand and swimming alongside of me.

It occurred to me that this experience is a metaphor for a lot of things our children will do in life. We let them go, even when we are not sure they are ready to go. We watch, and wait anxiously for them to fall and then get up again. We are not only proud that they got up in the first place, but proud that they fell and got up again. I am also proud when I see my old child teaching my younger child a skill and giving her the confidence to do something she might not otherwise have tried. Our ultimate goal is to swim alongside them in life, watching them succeed independently of us, but we are still always nearby, ready to reach out an help.

Yes, I realized, there will be many instances of letting go over and over again. They will fall, our hearts will skip a beat, and then they will get up and try again.

"Did you see me, Mommy," my youngest asks me with a big smile through wet, matted hair me as I help her into the boat. "Did you?"

"I sure did, Baby. I didn't miss a thing, I promise."

Amanda is the mom of two kids, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including one on motherhood called "Smotherhood." Find her here every Monday.

5 Comments

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  • DLG Jun 28, 2010

    Great story! My daughter is 11 and I am having a hard time letting go. When she does do well with anything she puts her mind to do, I am proud but still ready to step in if need be!

  • cckcmc Jun 28, 2010

    Great story, I can relate when my daughter started knee boarding and slalom sking at Kerr Lake. Since those days I have watched her graduate high school, leave for college and graduate from college this past May. A week ago her father and I watched her walk down the aisle and marry the young man of her choice. In August we will once again let go as she begins law school. Sometimes letting go is really only growing and experiencing new things with our children. PS even to this day her favorite place is camping and playing in the water at Kerr Lake. As much as things change during the years some remain the same and therein lies the greatest pleasure of all.

  • Iconoclast Jun 28, 2010

    I'm reminded of some advice I was given when my two were teenagers and I was learning to let go. Their only half as mature as they think they are but twice as mature as you think they are.

  • bgb Jun 28, 2010

    I enjoyed your story as always.It is hard letting go.I have a boy who will be 13 soon.He is at that age now "Mom" please .

  • jkwit Jun 28, 2010

    Great story. It reminded me of all the times of letting go with my children. Two of my boys are grown but I'm having to go through some more letting go with my youngest. My daughter is taking driver's education this summer. Here I go again.