Oh, if she could have carried her children on her back for the rest of her life, she would.
My mother — the strong, beautiful, kind-hearted figure who always stood by us, her husband, her parents, her siblings, her children, everyone whose lives had been touched by her presence.
She once told me that not a single day gone by without her thinking of us, worrying about us, her two oldest children who had left the nest to make something out of themselves, her youngest child who is still learning about himself, trying to find his way and place in this world.
I remember the day I told my mother I wanted to go to India to do my 200 hour yoga teacher training.
“Have you never watched the news? Don’t you know about the gang rape?” was her response.
I could hear the fear in her voice.
I could only imagine the fear in her heart.
To give you a little context, the majority of people in my hometown, especially my mother’s generation and the generations before her, perceive a country from the news they watch on TV.
Well, bad news sell. Unfortunately.
Bad news get the most highlight. Unfortunately.
People from my hometown do venture out to see the world. But they mostly go on tours and visit touristy places.
My mother had never even heard of Rishikesh before, the birthplace of yoga, a sacred town in India.
She eventually relented after I told her everything about the place.
And off I went in my pursue of knowledge.
That was just one instance of many where I decided to venture in a land unknown, all by myself, and my parents had to just let me go and find my own way in what in their head is a big scary world.
Yes, a lot of young people do this everyday. But you need to understand, I come from a patriarchal Asian background. Women are seen as delicate fragile flowers who mostly stay at home being housewife (not so much anymore these days, thank God).
Needless to say, my mother was judged for her parenting style by some of her peers.
“How could you let your only daughter travel alone to the middle of nowhere?” was a common question she was asked.
As if she never asked herself that question.
As if she wasn’t terrified of the idea of me being all by myself out there.
I suppose this is the kind of fear faced by parents every single day after their children leave the nest.
How did my mother overcome this?
What have I learned from her ability to let me go?
1. Take baby steps
Every journey begins with a single tiny step.
The first year of my university, located in the neighbouring country, I had to pretty much assured my parents that I am okay on my own, that I can take care of myself.
They visited me a lot on those days (it was only 45 minutes flight and the ticket was quite cheap).
It was like teaching your kid how to ride a bicycle.
When they were sure they didn’t need to hold on to the bike anymore, and that I could ride without the training wheels, they let go of their hands and watched me from a safe distance.
One small step, one step at a time.
2. You won’t be here forever
One precious lesson I had learned from my mother’s sudden passing.
The truth is, we are all here on borrowed time. We all have a deadline and we want to make sure that when we’re gone, our children can thrive and live without us.
My mother once said, “I won’t be here forever, kid. I want to teach you as much as I can before my time is up and sometimes, the best method to learn is to go out and experience life for yourself.”
I can’t even imagine how broken I would have been had I not the experiences and the knowledge I have accumulated over the years from going out to see the world.
Is it scary? Yes, of course it is! When you have children, your heart exists and beats outside your chest (another thing my wise mother had said). To let your heart goes so far out of your body is not an easy feat.
But we do what we gotta do.
We prepare our children to live without us, to the best of our ability.
3. Courage first
I was watching Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children when something a character said struck a chord.
We don’t need you to make us feel safe, Jake. You make us feel brave. And that’s even better.
- Emma Bloom
That’s what my parents have been doing all along.
Sure, they make me feel safe as I grow up. I wasn’t afraid of anything as long as they were around.
My only fear was that one day they wouldn’t be here.
By letting me out into the wild wild world, they gave me wings.
They must have realized that birds are meant to fly.
With every decision they made to let me go and have a taste of life, they were saying, “You’ve got this. You can handle this. You can survive in this world. You are capable.”
They taught me courage by showing me theirs.
Their trust and confidence in me gave me wings to fly, the power to face the world bravely.
When you realize how empowering it is to let your child go out and explore the world, no matter how crazy the world is, you will face your own fear and squash it.
Having said all of that, I am among the lucky to have great parents with great wisdom and compassion.
It is getting harder and harder to let your kids out in the world these days.
Technology advancement is not always a good thing and we don’t always realize when we are being manipulated or influenced.
Which is why it is imperative for parents to build a strong foundation, a strong character and values in their children.
Easier said than done, I know.
I am not a parent yet but I can give you an insight as a child of what I consider quite a successful parenting.
Let your kid see the world.
Let them know that they are lucky to have what they have, and that life is not always smooth sailing but it’s okay.
It’s okay because there’s nothing one cannot learn and therefore, there’s nothing one cannot overcome.
Empower your child by facing your fear.
Thank you for staying with me till the very last word.
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