• Alicia Assad

This is Why I Will Let Go

I tend to hold on a little longer and harder than I should in motherhood. I blame this "white-knuckle syndrome" on maternal instinct, which I notice is not always rational....

Photos by JLM

On Tuesday, my oldest two children headed out the door to first and third grade.

Yesterday, I dropped my four-year-old off for his first full day of preschool.

Next week, my “baby” (who is nearly two), begins a toddler program.

This means I am just days away from "separation," and for a few hours, twice a week, I will return to a quiet home with empty arms.

A small step, I know...but it's a really big deal.

After nearly 9 years of either growing a baby in my womb, nursing an infant at my breast, or carrying a toddler on my hip, I am going to have a few hours of uninterrupted, guilt-free, "Alicia Time."

Yes, I've stolen the breaks necessary to maintain my sanity over the years. But this "space"...it's different...

I suppose I feel like I've survived something big, and therefore, I have "arrived."

At what, exactly, I'm not certain...

But the freedom I see in my horizon looks pretty fabulous after having schlepped through the trenches of early motherhood.

Liberation also scares me, because it requires "letting go" of a phase I have cherished.

I am transitioning.

Change is scary.

For all I am yet to gain, I must let go.

I don’t like letting go.

Do you?

I tend to hold on a little longer and harder than I should in motherhood and if I do let go, it’s typically because I am forced. I blame this "white-knuckle syndrome" on maternal instinct, which I notice is not always rational.

This urge to white-knuckle motherhood is perhaps best exemplified by the bag of expired breast milk lingering in the bottom of my freezer.

I weaned my "baby" when she was ten months old, because she was having too much fun biting my nipples. The pain outweighed my desire to keep nursing her, so I "let go."

That was one year ago, so it's NOT normal (or rational) to keep this bag of spoiled milk in my freezer.

Yes, I have thought about tossing it in the trash...

...several times...

But purging the last physical remnant of my nursing experience suggests the end of an era has come…

Technically, it’s already long gone, and that reality ushers in some grief I'd rather not experience.

Or better said, I'd be selfish to mourn the passing of my early motherhood years, because of what I've been privileged to experience.

I fight the sadness I feel in "letting go" with the gratitude I hold for the years of baby making, infant soothing, and toddler wrangling I’ve survived and savored.

I have nursed, rocked, snuggled, and kissed to my greedy heart’s content.

I have soaked up more joy than I could have ever hoped for in bringing my four children into the world.

My heart is full.

I am blessed.

I hold onto the memories I've gathered as I transition into new era of "Alicia/Mom/Storyteller" who for nearly a decade now has been, “Just Mom.”

Don't get me wrong, I realize there is a lot of heavy responsibility involved with raising these kids of mine. Yet as I've begun to shift my energy away from creating and nurturing life in such a physical way, a surge of vitality has permeated my spirit.

I notice a space is opening up for the dreams I tucked away behind the responsibilities of motherhood all those years ago.

Like it was yesterday, I recall staring at two blue lines on a stick for the first time, and I was utterly terrified by the surrender becoming a mother requires.

I realize that unease I wrestled at the precipice of motherhood is quite similar to what I feel now...

Yet through this transition, I note the abundant gratitude I have for all I gained in that sacrifice I made to be the "stay at home" kind of mom.

The truth is, my heart did break back when I "gave it all up" to be "Mom."

I grieved those dreams I assumed were lost as my heart divided, then multiplied, and grew.

Now, with this big old swollen "mom heart" of mine, I might finally be bold enough to chase those dreams I dreamed back then.

My dreams have evolved, but a fresh perspective suggests that in surrender and sacrifice, my calling was not lost.

By letting go, I made space for the love, strength, wisdom, and courage I needed to actually chase those dreams in my heart.

As I surrender once again, I'll move forward with much more grace, knowing there is so much I am yet to gain.

For you, dear reader, there are so many more words yet to come...