Grandmothers Hold On and Let Go

Over spring break, I had a chance to think about the eternal balance for grandmothers as well as mothers – between holding on and letting go. I recognized the dilemma as we took our visiting grandsons to an amusement park that offered trapeze lessons. I watched each of them climb up the tall ladder, perch on the small landing, reach for the bar of the trapeze and then leap out into the air, swinging freely on the trapeze.

After a few swings, each one raised his legs up, hooked them over the bar, and hung by his knees, letting go of his hands and swinging back and forth upside down. Although each was, of course, attached to a tether protecting from harm in case of a fall, the freedom of the moment was palpable.

After being let down, each boy rolled off the net. Their huge grins and swaggering walk testified to the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that each boy attained. They had experienced first hand the flood of emotions generated by holding on and letting go – anticipation, anxiety, fear, daring, courage, exhilaration, fulfillment and pride, among others.

And I too understood the complexity of holding on and letting go – of children, grandchildren, aging parents. Having practiced it for years with my children, I was finally getting a little more skillful at it with my grandchildren. I recognized that although they loved to cuddle with me when they were younger, as they matured they were becoming a bit more distant, especially in public. And this was all just fine – I didn’t take it personally. I realized that even in their letting go, we would always have bonds to hold on to. It’s a growing experience – for all of us.

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