Mothering While Single: The Fear of Letting Go

I can’t sleep in an isolated place without pills, earplugs, and both my children in bed with me for fear of scary, feral characters with a hankering for the wilderness.

Mariella Frostrup

mother and baby ducks

Several years ago my two younger sons started staying out late.

For years before that, with the exception of school, they would always be in the house. There was actually a time when I wondered if they would make any friends.

They were each other’s best friend and I was comfortable with that but always knew it would be good if they had outside friends as well.

However, when my youngest started high school they both started to make new friends. Those friends would hang out a the house and I got to know most of them. Some of them even began to call me mom.

I was nervous when my sons started hanging out at their friends’ homes. So, I had to find out where the friends lived and with whom they were living. I tried to understand the dynamics of their family makeup without interfering.

I was fearful of letting go.

Then as my sons got older, they would have reasons to stay out later. For instance, it’s someone’s birthday and they wanted to watch a late movie and then hang out in Time Square. Or they wanted to hang out at someone’s home till way past midnight. Yep! That got me nervous.

Fortunately, my sons both had cell phones — when I text they would respond — more importantly, they were respectful.

However, I could never quite fall asleep until they got home. I didn’t want to hover or fuss, but I also couldn’t just go to sleep and not care where they were.

I was still fearful of letting go.

Womans hands letting the butterfly be free to go

One night my youngest stayed out later than usual. At around 1:00am I called him and his phone went straight to voice-mail. After several attempts, texting and calling, I got very worried.

I was a friend on his Facebook page so I checked his status to see if he had posted anything late that night. But nothing.

What’s a worrying mother to do?

At 3:00 am, I dialed 911. My son was 17. It was almost morning. I had not heard from him. His phone was obviously off or dead. At least I was hoping, just his phone.

All kinds of awful thoughts were going through my mind. I was not angry. Just sick with fear.

Not too long after I dialed 911, two police officers arrived at my front door. At the same time, my son called from his friend’s phone to tell me he was on his way home. I had to sheepishly explain to the officer that I had found him and he was OK.

I was really embarrassed to make such a fuss but I would do it again in a heart- beat. The officers were kind enough to assure me I did the right thing. Still I apologized profusely.

There have been many episodes after that, when I laid in bed sleepless, waiting for them to get home. Not knowing where they are and not wanting to keep calling. I realize at their age I was hanging out with my friends too. The truth is that it’s a part of growing up. Thankfully I have a very good relationship with my children. There is never any shouting match, because when I scold them for not keeping in touch, they respond by telling me I’m right, they are sorry and it won’t happen again. Rinse. Repeat!

While dealing with the changing dynamics of my family — boys growing up into young men — I learn to pray for them. Recognizing that I couldn’t do it alone, I would call each of my son’s name to God in prayer.

I am careful to indicate what it was that I wanted God to do. I ask for His daily protection over them by repeating Psalm 91:11-12 (“He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. In their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone” ESV.) during each prayer.

Above all, I asked that I would have faith and peace concerning my sons.

Finally, I always ask God to lead them in a straight path. And, daily for His blessing, favor and grace upon their lives.

Now when they are out at night, I go to sleep peacefully. They also will tell me where they are going and with whom. Still I’m a mother. One young lady says it best — She was away at college for 4 years. All that time her parents had no idea what she was up to. But the moment she moved back home, her parents were in full protection mode — Still fearful of letting go.

As I’m writing this post, I am careful not to worry about two things:

My middle son has shipped out to Basic Training. Yes, I’m still fearful at times that stuff might happen and he may not come back home to me. But when those thoughts occur I push them aside knowing God is in charge.

My youngest will also be driving more and want some type of turbo-charged vehicle. (I was an avid race car fan when I was pregnant with him). Every day when I hear about a teenager getting killed in a car accident I ache for those parents and worry about my own.

What about you? What are you fearful about concerning your children? Do you yearn for the time they were still small and the furthest they would go from you is the next room? Are you too fearful to let them go?

Please share your thoughts. Thanks.

Recommended Reading: Single & Parenting. Hard Work. Real Hope.

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