Laboring to Let Go

A mother comes to grips with the pain of watching her son leave home for the first time.

By Susan Stiffelman
man with suitcase
Photograph: iStockphoto

I hop to the market, picking up burger fixings and hot dogs, and skip home, and my heart is fully bandaged and beginning to heal and life is as it should be. They watch and eat and at halftime go outside, the nine or ten of them, and play catch with a big rubber ball (really!). The game ends, the Lakers win the finals, and the seventeen- and eighteen-year-old guys and gals go back out and play basketball in the driveway, like they did after watching games when they were ten.

And grief has left the premises for a while.

I guess that’s what it’s like… These days I'm happy for him, thrilled at the adventure that awaits him. I guess you could say that, much like I was the day he was born, I'm between contractions.


Susan Stiffelman, MFT, is an internationally respected parent educator, therapist and AOL/Huffington Post Parent’s weekly parenting expert. She is also the author of "Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected," to be released in May 2012 by Atria Books, a division of Simon and Schuster.

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First Published September 6, 2011

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