The air was warm and the wind was just right. Saturday seemed like a great day to fly a kite with my daughter. My husband showed her how to get the kite into the air and showed how to hold the string. After a few tries, we got it flying. And crashing, and flying again! My husband and I switched places. He was launching the kite, while I took over helping her manage the spool and the string and keep that kite in the air. We ended up both tangled in kite string, frustrated, with a kite on the ground. I told her to let it go more than once. I realized that I was trying to fly the kite by myself. I realized that she wasn’t participating anymore; that she was off playing in the dirt and not even paying attention to the kite. Then I remembered it wasn’t my turn. It was hers. Let it go, indeed.
What was I so afraid of happening if I just let her have the reins? Would she trip? Would she crash the kite? Would she give up? Maybe all of those things. But what was at risk if I didn’t let it go and let her try? When I was able to step back and let her hold the string by herself, boy did that kite take flight! She had it, she really had it. And she had the best look on her face. It was joy and pride and accomplishment all rolled into one.
I got something out of it too. I got to watch. I got to enjoy my girl doing something so amazing. I was given the opportunity not just to be proud, but to tell her how proud of her I am. I was able to tell her afterwards “I loved watching you fly that kite all on your own!” I was able to be Hands Free, like I’ve been trying to be lately. I got to make a cool video of my girl handling that kite like a boss.
I was mulling over this experience when I read this article called “Let Go of Control: How to learn the art of surrender” that one of our readers posted in a comment. It was what I needed to hear, right when I needed to hear it. I had a choice to make on Saturday. I could keep the control and hold everyone back—including me— from a really fun experience or I could let go and let it happen. I’m so glad that I did. I felt a sense of freedom that I’ve been waiting for ever since I became a parent.
As soon as your baby is born, you fumble around making the choices you think are right for your child. They hand you this tiny little creature and you’re in charge of not only keeping it alive, but teaching it how to be a good human being. You feel around in the dark for the elusive instruction manual that these kids just don’t come with. You have doubts and fears and more doubts. You operate with less sleep that you ever thought possible. You do things in parenting that would make your pre-parent self gasp with horror. Freedom is not what you’re thinking about. You just want to do the best you can.
And I have. I’ve done the best that I can, just like you. I’m doing the best I can. But the game is changing, just when I think I’ve gotten the hang of it. My child is no longer a baby. She’s flying like that kite. I thought it would make me sad-well, sadder. But I do feel free. It’s with that feeling of freedom that I’m ready to face what’s next, be it summer camp or first grade or just going to birthday parties without me. Sure, I’m going to get tangled up in that kite string from time to time. Sometimes it will be by accident, other times intentionally. It’s going to take some practice. But when I start to step in, I’m going to remember her face, her joy, her pride. And let her fly.