by Jane Kramer~
Standing together at the hotel desk, my stomach churned. “Numero Uno”, a nickname her Papa gave her, was scowling. She looked at me and recounted the memory that her dad picked her up early from her high school prom.
I said, “Maybe we should pick another hotel for her wedding guests if this one carries uncomfortable memories.”
Being special needs meant “special” treatment, but does it have to?
In that moment, I realized that Rachel did not want another hotel, just the acknowledgement of her struggles. I did not say another word…I already said too much. My inner voice reminded me that at thirty years old, Rachel has created her own systems of support and has an amazing fiancé as her life partner.
I find that as I move into the empty nest phase, I am trying to use my inner
voice to continually remind me to let go. I have become so used to care giving for three children and an aging parent. My Dad passed one year ago.
Rachel’s sister has just moved to California, has a new job and is engaged to a wonderful man. My son is transitioning into his career and I am planning two weddings.
I am feeling overwhelmed. I decided that I want to exercise more to help release the achy body parts that might just be suffering from neglect. I want to take care of my stomach too. I realize that I really do not need to hover any longer…if fact I wonder if maybe I never needed to hover at all.
My kids know I am here if they want my help. My number one priority has always been my family. I try not to be judgmental of how I cared for everyone, but I admit that with experience comes wisdom.
For me wisdom means awareness. It means listening to my inner voice. The answers usually lie within and the trick is to listen before I leap. Ok…so often I leap, but I am working on that every day!
With two weddings to plan, there are many differences of opinion among all of us. My stomach really reacts to these moments. It is really hard to know how and when to express my opinions.
Thankfully, our three adult kids really know how to communicate what frustrates them and what they want. They have wisdom of their own. I feel so proud of them.
At this point, in reality, I am only a reference library in their eyes. If I think hard enough, I remember feeling the same way at their age. Yes, it’s absolutely scarier to let go when the child has special needs.
My instinct to protect her is not easy to shift. The more I witness how she has learned to balance her own life, the more confident I feel and the more I can let go.
Quite honestly, her real path to independence came when she moved out of our home. The most difficult parenting task has been learning to step back. No one tells us this.
Stepping back has its liberating perks. It frees up my time and my energy so I can focus more on much needed self-care. I can make more time for my work, learning, friendships and hobbies.
As a couple, my husband and I can create more time to nurture our relationship. We can set more dates with one another.
Learning to let go of the worry has been the best gift I have ever given to my family and myself.