Today we are discussing the “Letting Go” step of our CALM model.
Letting go of “shoulds” and letting go of perfectionism.
Letting go of fixing everything all at once.
Letting go of worrying about what everyone else thinks.
Letting go is a daily practice.
Letting go is also an attitude that you build over time so that you can embrace and celebrate your quirky kid. Even when everything isnot exactly perfect. Even when there are a lot of things to work on.
All parents embark on this journey eventually, of course. But the parents of quirky or special needs children often get to follow this particular path a lot sooner than other parents.
And it is HARD.
It is hard to let go of the how we thought things should go.
It is hard to accept the ways our children are different.
Different is not necessarily bad. But it is usually unexpected.
Most of us, for example, did not fantasize about how regular public school would not work for our children with learning disabilities.
Most of us did not plan for how we would handle a child having meltdowns because of homework frustration.
Letting go is a daily exercise. It is a study in details. It is a moment-to-moment process that challenges us when we least expect it.
It is, for example, noticing all of your feelings when your daughter walks out of school with a wet stretched out collar from chewing her shirt, and then letting them go as you hear about her day. Because a comment aimed right at this behavior is actually not helpful, even if it bothers you and even if you know it is a behavior that eventually will need to be dealt with.
It’s knowing what pushes your own buttons and then moving on.
It’s letting go of the great back to school celebration because your child needs to avoid loud noisy and chaotic places. Even if you promised yourself you would be the type of parent who always went to back to school celebrations.
Letting go is smiling proudly with your child but willfully ignoring the knots she will not let you comb out of her hair because right now that is a struggle you choose not to engage in. You make a choice because there are other more important struggles and an elementary school age kid can only have so many things to work on.
And you do this even if you remember being picked on for your hairstyle and it FEELS urgent to you.
Letting go is not about ignoring our feelings. Letting go is letting ourselves feel but not get stuck in needing to act right when we feel. Letting go is not letting our own needs dictate what is best for our children at any particular moment.
Letting go in the moment means we try not to be reactive. It does not mean we forget about things or pretend something is not important. It does mean we are thoughtful about when and how we address something.
Letting go means letting yourself off the hook if you had a bad day because we are all human.
Letting go means knowing that each moment is a new opportunity.
Letting go means accepting our children, as they are, with all of their quirks, because this is the first step toward helping them be exceptional and strong.
Letting go is being where we are now, picking our battles and accepting our own feelings about it all.
Letting go is the first step in being fully present. And this is what every child (special needs or not) needs most of all.