Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Moms and Their Teens - Letting Go

There's a new novel by Karen Russell, Swamplandia, which is getting fine reviews.\

Swamplandia! is set in a down-at-the-heels tourist attraction in Florida that spotlights alligator wrestling. It's about the wonderful and bizarre family that runs it, and a big old bear named Judy Garland. Haven't read the book (yet?), but the reviewer said that a line at the end of the book sums up the book's focus: “mothers burning inside the risen suns of their children.”

Not sure I fully understand the meaning without reading the book, but let me give it a shot. The line could apply to any mother, from Mama Rose in Gypsy to ordinary moms. We're the ones who don't want to relive/redeem our own lives through our children, but who just plain hope we've given them all that they need to succeed, be happy. And, I'd also suggest, we also hope that we can pinpoint some parts of ourselves in that success.

Here's a related article by Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, president of the Child Mind Institute, on letting go of your child, when the time comes. He looks at it from the transitional point of the high school senior/college freshman.

From this parent's perspective, the first 18 years of our children's lives amount to a crazy, meshed process of being protective and supportive and always there while at the same time letting go, bit by bit. If we wait till they are off to college, I am not sure either mom or child is then fully prepared (or able to cope) with the next phase.

As Dr. Koplewicz says, college is just another transition point. Our children will still need us, for which I am mightily glad.

Thanks, Andrea, for sharing this site with me.

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