Motherhood has been my greatest teacher in all ways. Thus far, my biggest lessons occurred when my daughter was starting high school.
The Unavoidable Challenge
Around four years ago, the tension in our home hit a boiling point. My 15-year-old daughter had been steadily pushing against me, wanting to move to western Canada to live with her dad. The more I resisted the idea, the more she angled for it. I was not open to the idea as I had raised my daughter as a full-time single parent since she was only five months old. I thought to myself, How could she want to live with him? I’m the one who’s been raising her all of these years. A deep part of me was dreading the idea. I was sad, hurt, and devastated at the thought of not having her home with me for her last two years of high school.
The Realization I Had to Face
After many twists and turns, there came a moment of truth. I finally realized that I needed to listen to her more closely. She was growing up and using her voice to ask for what she wanted. She had the right to the experience of living with her dad. I needed to let her go.
Part of that realization included seeing that she is her own person, her own soul, on her own path. Maybe she needed this time to discover, grow, and learn. I began to see her as courageous and brave. Although, at first, this idea was challenging to accept, I soon felt a wave of relief. I was giving in only to allow the greater plan to unfold. It felt like dropping my end of the rope in a tug of war contest. I finally let go.
How This Experience Impacted Our Mother/Daughter Relationship
Fast forward to now: Our relationship has deepened and grown in many ways. Unfortunately, my daughter’s time in Canada was cut short due to the pandemic, but she still had the unique experience of living with her dad and his family for almost two years. As for me, I had my share of growth to experience while we were apart, as well. This challenging time was a call to action, urging me to look deeply within, connect to my true self, and become the woman and mother I was meant to be. For me, this meant radiating faith and trust while allowing life to lead.
I now recognize that the feelings of overwhelm, inadequacy, and isolation that I experienced during that time were an invitation to dive deeply and explore areas within myself that I hadn’t felt comfortable looking at before. Motherhood has been my greatest teacher because in many ways it forced me to do this work on myself that I would have otherwise avoided.
Sitting alone, feeling the loss of her being away was a catalyst for growth. After working through my feelings through therapy, journaling, and remaining present to the emotions I experienced in everyday life, I realized that these feelings arose from mistaken beliefs. I could see that I wasn’t a rejected mother, undeserving of raising my daughter at home. I was actually a strong and loving mother. Our relationship was so secure, it could weather this storm. I was not only capable of handling this circumstance, this was something I was meant to do. In my case, my daughter needed me to be faithful, strong, and secure so that she could fly free, and move away to live with her dad. She needed me to be unwavering, secure, and faithful.
I could see my daughter as a teacher. I needed to learn the lessons, just like her. We could both experience greater healing when I stopped fighting against the lessons and instead allow both my daughter and myself to see and discover them. There was beauty, love, and grace at every turn. I only had to open my eyes and see it.
My Hopes For Sharing My Story
During the most challenging times, especially before she moved, I scoured the internet looking for a hopeful story about a mother’s experience in letting her teenage child move out to live with her father. I looked and looked but could not find a single article to inspire me and help me through this trial. Every essay I found was written by a mother full of despair and loneliness. Yet my experience had a very positive outcome.
Motherhood as a Call to Deepening Self-Love
Becoming a mother doesn’t mean we stop caring for ourselves. It’s the call to action to step farther into the profound truth that all experiences are here to help us grow. And growing means diving deeply into self-love, modeling for our children that we value ourselves and our feelings, and giving them space and freedom to discover theirs.
For me, “seeing life through rose colored glasses” means allowing ourselves to see the beauty, love, and possibilities within us and in the world around us. There is a silver lining in all experiences, even those occurring during the most challenging teenage years.