A few months ago, shortly after her 13th birthday, my daughter started asking to ride the bus alone. I went on my usual tangent about how I just wasn’t ready and that was something we might be able to explore next year. As if the weirdos known to lurk around on busses and bus stops would be any less present when she turned 14. I was really just stalling for time. It seems like everyday I have to try and cope with the necessity of her burgeoning independence, her desire to prove to herself she can do things on her own. She says I have to start letting go. She’s right and I have to get a grip.
Sometimes fear can masquerade itself as intuition. All of my spidey-senses tell me not to put her on the bus. My spidey-senses also tell me not to ever let her venture further than my front porch. Simply because I know The Heart of Darkness is out there and I falsely believe I can protect her from everything through an irrational loop of risk-aversion I’ve developed in my head.
I talked with my Mom about how I felt and she acknowledged my anxiety, but also shared the following insight with me:
- These thoughts, while typical of most over-protective Moms, are not rational and could cripple my daughter’s growth. I don’t want that.
- I have to incrementally let her go. My job is to love her, keep her safe and teach her, not to mitigate every potential risk or problem that could manifest.
- I can’t place more emphasis on keeping her safe than I do teaching her. Nobody wins if I do this.
- Real love let’s her go, guides her along the way and doesn’t behave like the symptoms on an anxiety pill commercial. LOL
Well last week, the demands of being a working Mom brought my apprehension to a head. My daughter desperately needed eyeglasses and with no evening and weekend appointments available, I’d have to take her during the day. So, we devised a plan. She would take a half day at school, ride the bus and meet me downtown all on her own. She would text and/or call at certain checkpoints. She did.
I took a picture to capture the moment she got of the bus.
The confidence she felt was liberating enough to lift her feet off the ground. Mine, too.
Caption: Q after her first bus ride alone
What ways have you had to let go of your teen or tween to help them develop their independence and how are you coping? Share your thoughts below.
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