There’s a pile of laundry in my oldest son’s room, and it’s driving me crazy.
I want to sneak in there, grab an arm full of clothes, and at least wash some of it.
I hate when things are undone.
Especially when I know I am capable of doing them.
But those clothes are his responsibility. And when he needs something in that pile, he’ll do his laundry.
His sense of timing, his plan of action is different than mine.
My mentality is do a little bit of laundry often so you don’t get behind.
His is to do laundry when you absolutely have to.
My son is not me.
And that’s okay.
I have to wave the white flag on this one, even though it may be buried in a pile of tshirts.
Why? Because it’s part of letting go.
Of letting him feel the weight of more responsibility.
And while I know it’s necessary, there’s a part of me that feels like I’m slacking off. Like I should be doing more than what I’m doing.
So I ask a lot of questions, or drop not-so-subtle hints.
“It might be good to throw in a load of laundry while you’re doing your homework.”
“That laundry sure is piling up. If you wash it, I’ll throw it in the dryer.”
I do this with other things too.
“How’s your money situation? Are you making sure you have enough for gas?”
“Did you turn that paper in?”
“What’s going on with your lit class? I got a notice that you didn’t do so great on that last test.”
All of those seem like valid parent questions to me.
It’s a parent who is engaged, involved, concerned with their child’s life. But if you saw what I was thinking when I asked, you would know that what I really want to know is, “Are you going to handle this or should I?” Even if sometimes that’s not even a viable option.
But my son is a senior.
He will legally be an adult in a few months.
And his response to every one of those “hints” is the only answer I need at this point, “I’ve got it, Dad.”
He’s got it.
And when he doesn’t have it, he’ll deal with it.
Or ask me for help.
I hear stories of other people, and what they are or aren’t doing for and with their kids. It makes me a little neurotic. It feeds my fear that “I’m not doing enough.”
Because letting go feels like you’re slacking off.
Like something big will go undone.
But in the overall picture, the biggest thing of all is the letting go part. It may even be the most important. But it feels weird, and plays havoc with your insecurities.
Letting go happens before they walk out the door to go to college, or join the military, or move into their own place.
It begins with letting them “own” more of their lives. Making decisions. Dealing with life. Releasing.
But being there to help when needed.
And sometimes just closing the door so you don’t see the laundry basket.