Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hold on Loosely

I have a young daughter whose journey toward becoming a full-fledged teenager has nearly reached its conclusion. However, while she still has just over one year remaining on her trek, I can already feel the tremors, ever so subtle, of her growth. There is an undeniable metamorphosis away from being a young child, with all of their innocence and parental dependence. Slowly, subtly, unmistakably, she is becoming a young woman. She is growing in independence and developing more and more of her and less and less of us. This is, of course, wholly natural and inevitable. My control of her life must wane as she takes her steps away. As she once needed to be held and carried, and then took those first tentative steps off on her own, now I must let her continue to step out from under my wing more and more.

I hear those old 38 Special lyrics rolling around in my mind:

Hold on loosely, but don't let go
If you cling to tightly
You're gonna lose control

There is a selfish part of me that doesn't want to let go. I don't want to lose being such an important part of my daughter's life and growth and existence. She is not only my daughter, but my best little buddy. But regardless of what I want, the truth is, this relationship will change with time one way or another. One way will lead to a much more painful separation between us, with her not fully learning the lessons and skills necessary for living her own life. The other way will lead to a separation that will strengthen and deepen our relationship, and give her the best possible foundation for success. I must somehow come to understand that my role is to give her room to grow, to learn, to make mistakes, and to develop self-reliance and independence. This is the natural and healthy way of things. Learning to love and let go will define my true legacy as my daughter's father. So, hold on loosely.