Letting go

A baby hand holding his father's finger

If you read my previous post “All grown up” here, you will realize that some experiences in my past, specifically the ones dealing with the passing away of my maternal grandparents instilled a sense of ‘detachment’ in me more than anything else. As years went by and as I had more such experiences in life where friends and relatives tended to ‘drift apart’ from me due to a variety of reasons I developed a sense of ‘detachment’ with relationships in general.

Not to say that I don’t get attached to people or to relationships at all, but it was more like me planning for the ‘worst case scenario’ almost all the time. And in the case of relationships such a scenario would either be the other person gradually drifting apart from me or even worse. While I understand that this probably can be viewed as pessimistic or even cynical by most readers, this attitude of mine has stood the test of time for me, and has probably been the single most effective method by which I have prevented myself from getting ‘hurt’ in relationships for quite some time now.

While I do realize that having such an attitude probably (many of you might even use the adjective ‘surely’) prevents me from ever having a completely ‘fruitful’ relationship with anybody, given that I am almost never completely honest with myself or the other party in a relationship and am always hesitant to give ‘my all’ to the relationship, the fact remains that this is one aspect of my personality which probably has been changed for good and probably cannot be changed back ever.

But then, getting married and subsequently having a daughter after six long years of married life have changed this aspect of mine to a large extent. Today, my wife and little girl, and to a smaller extent my extended family of in-laws mean much more to me not just because they are related to me but also due to the extremely intense personal equations that I enjoy with all of them. However, there still exist large parts of my personality which remain skeptical about my ability to be genuinely ‘attached’ to them given my bad experiences in the past. I almost always try and look for avenues where I can ‘let go’ of my attachments to any relationship I have…I guess that part of my personality has become so strongly fused with me that it will always remain a part of me forever.

One thing that both my wife and me are very conscious about and have been since our little girl came into our lives is the fact that we ought to remain extremely objective about our relationship with her and not allow ourselves to get inalienably or unduly attached to her. We always tell ourselves that end of day, she has her own personality and is going to develop into a wonderful individual person of her own. We need to perform our duties as parents, provide for all her necessities, inculcate good human values in her, teach her how to survive in this world, provide her with a decent education which will hold her in good stead, all this while remaining relatively ‘detached’ from her.

While readers may believe that this is probably an ‘escapist’ kind of mindset that we are exhibiting, both of us sincerely believe that this is the most effective way to bring up a child nowadays. Given the changes we are witnessing in the cultural landscape the day isn’t too far away when urban children such as ours will want their independence sooner rather than later, and it therefore would help if all urban parents learn to ‘let go’ of their children sooner rather than later in lives.

We personally believe that gone are the days when children relied solely on their parents to take the relatively more important decisions of their lives. And if anything, we parents should feel happy and blessed if they actually even allow us to be part of these decisions. Each successive generation exhibits levels of maturity and independence that easily surpass that of previous generations, and by the time my little girl reaches her teenage years, I am more than sure that she wouldn’t even think twice about living life on her own terms without necessarily involving us parents in her decision making process.

But then, what prompted this post, this ‘rant’ about children nowadays, and about ‘letting go’ sooner rather than later?

Given that I reach office at around 7.45 AM IST every day, it is either my dad (mostly) or my wife (rarely) who drop off my little girl to the play school where she is enrolled. However, on Friday I was working from home and I therefore decided to drop her off that day. Having heard stories that she almost always is more than happy when she actually sees the school and its surroundings and has absolutely no issues saying a quick bye and running into the school compound, I thought it would be a breeze. And the fact that she has been attending play school for more than six months now also gave me the confidence that this would be an easy task. But then life has a way of biting you in the backside when you least expect it, doesn’t it.

There we were, on the two wheeler, me telling my lil one to behave herself, have fun with friends, sing her rhymes and all that when we stopped outside the gates of the school. Unlike her usual self, she took her time in getting off from the vehicle and then without looking back at me, she started rubbing her eyes. The lady from the school gently took her by the hand and started leading her inside. She had hardly taken a couple of steps when she turned back, looked at me and started bawling her lungs out, teary eyed and all.

At that point in time, all my theories about ‘letting go’ and ‘staying detached’ got thrown out of the window. I immediately parked the vehicle, went up to her, lifted her up and the two of us stood there for a good 40 odd seconds when I showed her how her friends were already there at school and were waiting to play with her that day. And as is the norm with kids her age, she immediately wanted to go and join them. Thus ended the tears and the sorrow of separation for her.

As for me, while I am not having any second thoughts about my concept of ‘letting go’, I sure have realized that two and a half years is too young an age to actually begin ‘letting go’ of my daughter, and that I should give her some more time to ‘find her own feet’, so to speak.

36 thoughts on “Letting go

  1. I can’t agree or disagree with your concepts because it all depends on the situation. There’s no sure shot way to handle all situations. I somehow find it really difficult let go of people I am attached to. I give my 200% to any relationship. But when rubbed on the wrong side, I completely excuse myself from that relationship. It is like that person then merely becomes just another human being to me. And I leave them to be completely independent. I have no clue whether it is right or wrong, but I don’t let one bad experience stop me from being 100% truthful to the other till I’m proced wrong.

    • @Rekha, knowing you and having read some of your posts and FB Status messages, I know clearly well that you are someone who believes in giving a relationship a 100% irrespective of the consequences. And that is one endearing quality about you as well 🙂

  2. Yet again, a little bit more is revealed about the man behind mahabore. As you all have experienced, I have an incredibly tough time letting go of anything. Maybe because I get too emotionally attached and wear my heart on my sleeve. But of course once bitten twice shy, so yes , there are times when I too decide letting go is the right thing to do. As for letting go of your daughter, I guess, she is far too young for that. Hold her tight and guide her Whist giving her the choice to choose .

  3. A very interesting, albeit unusual take on your plans of dealing with life’s eventualities! Though I feel that your levels of detachment must vary depending on the person. I can’t believe that the detachment that you can forge with, say, your in-laws can be the same that you may develop someday with your daughter.
    Well-written post.

    • @Rickie, that’s quite an interesting point you make about having different levels of detachment with different people. I guess that’s what I also practice albeit I haven’t quite thought of it that way all these days 🙂

  4. Children that young always have difficulty adjusting to any change in routine. Try dropping your daughter everyday at school, for a week, and you will see her wave you off happily and skip away inside the gates too.

    It is true that children now are becoming more independent, sooner than we did in our time. That does not mean we should not feel attached to them. We cannot help it as parents. But we should remember the rider that comes with the attachment. That they are individuals in their own right, with their own personalities, and needing their own space. This space concept was hitherto unknown to our parents and their lot, but we know and acknowledge it, so I hope we as parents will not feel too much heartache when our young ones grow wings and fly away to explore the world.

  5. Letting go and detaching oneself from the intricate maze of relationships is tough. Earlier I believed that I should give 500% to the relationship and I practiced it while I preached it too, I expected it in return too which caused severe heartburn and bitterness . Many seasons have passed , wiser with age and experience , I practically believe that , though the heart is still not ready , it is better to let go and best is to remain detached and in the absence of my son , I try to comfort my heart about the same. The next moment I set my eyes on my son , I console myself that I postpone my detachment for another year and this way many years have been dragged . I realize the wisdom preached by the Bramhakumaris about doing your duty but remain detached. A wonderful post Jairam.

    • @Kalpana, yes, especially when it comes to children, irrespective of what we preach or try to practice, the actual situation on the ground and our state of mind at that particular moment is what it all ultimately boils down to, doesn’t it 🙂

  6. Two and a half is certainly a very young age to start thinking of letting go. But I agree, in smaller ways, it has to start happening early rather than late. When it comes to children especially, letting go is pretty difficult. Finding that balance of letting go and still within the ear shot is tough to achieve. Well written Jairam.

    • @Jas, that precisely was the point of this post, trying to figure out the occasions as to when to let go and when to hold on 🙂 Such a delicate balance, isn’t it 🙂

  7. Don’t know Jairam, you’ve built your defense mechanism. But, just because a few people singe us and are mean, we can’t stop trusting the world. I have been burnt many times and have lost a few friends but it is the friends who stick by even after decades who give you the necessary boost when you are down and out who let you still continue to believe in the world. We have to have different yardsticks for every person. And children have to let go no matter how painful the process. They were never ours to keep. The same way as it worked with our parents. I can see that your little girl melted your heart.

    • @Rachna, completely agree with you when you say that relationships that have ‘stood the test of time’ so to speak are the ones that last longer and are stronger as well. You put the point in lovely words when you say that our children were never ours to keep 🙂 Such an apt statement to describe my thoughts at this point in time 🙂

  8. So touching when you described how she was crying 😦 can’t imagine how you must have felt! I can’t really comment much on the concept of letting go in general…but for your daughter i think you probably need to open up your heart and soul…yes she’ll grow up fast…yes she’ll take her own decisions and she must too, make mistakes n learn by herself but for that you need not detach yourselves from her…

    • @Aditi, yes, point well taken, but given the speed at which children grow up these days, the day to actually ‘let go’ will probably be sooner than later 🙂

  9. Plan all you want but life has a way of biting your backside as you say. Most so us are family oriented people. When it comes to family it is not easy to let go. But one does find a balance between holding on and letting go at different stages.

  10. A very interesting piece.. esp. liked the way you played the Devil’s Advocate with your own self… You know I have personally been burnt many a times and am rather pessimistic when it comes to relationships…like you I have my shell, but then I have slowly and steadily begun to measure people around me with different yardsticks.. life is way too short to not live to the fullest and if there is a relationship out there that can make the journey more enjoyable, then I want to give it a chance. Loved your thoughts about bringing up your daughter, a time will come when letting go will be necessary but not today. Really well written Jairam!

    • @Seeta, your experiences sound similar to mine in terms of ‘once bitten twice shy’ kind of mindset. Loved the fact that your thoughts around life being too short to let the negativity affect you also resonates quite well with my mindset at this point in time 🙂 That is quite a funny conincidence 🙂

  11. Interesting, well-written post!

    For relationships and for anything else in life, I personally believe in, and try to practise, “Give it your best, hope for the best, but be prepared for anything ranging from the best to the worst.” This enables me to enjoy the present moment completely, enjoy the good things that happen in future, and take bad developments in my stride. I would certainly be disappointed about bad developments, but there would be no bitterness or sense of devastation.

    I have absolutely no doubt that your wife and you are 100% honest about your intention to ‘let go’, but ‘Letting go’ of one’s child is much, much more easier said than done. Very few Indian parents are actually able to ‘let go’. Many may claim that they have ‘let go’ and are happy about it, but the truth is their ‘letting go’ was not voluntary and they’re not really happy about it.

    • @Proactive Indian, what you say is so true, and it is precisely these parents that we are trying to learn from in terms of what not to do when ‘letting go’ of our little child. We still have some more time before we can completely and really let go, but hopefully we will learn how to do so by then 😀

  12. A very valid point, Jairam sir. Sometimes we need to let go. I’ve been hurt in relationships, and I feel a ‘yes’ to many things you’ve spoken out here. Well, I want to be detached, at times. But I honestly find it very difficult in some cases. The little kiddo is one such person with whom detachment is impossible !

  13. For me the detachment varies from people to people..
    The fact that you have acknowledged the need to let go is very important.. Because many people do not understand that and have to realize it through a lot of friction.
    But then acknowledging and actually doing is different and the later is tough. I am experiencing this with my sister who is five years younger to me. It was only few days back that she craved for my nod and now she is on her own.. whoa what change.. I am trying to appreciate it but sometimes it is difficult.. I guess the balance between stepping on and stepping down is the required thing…

    • @simple girl, so true, the ability to detach oneself from loved ones, or activities that we love is something that each person has his or her own individual styles of doing. End of day, all of us are striving to achieve whatever that ‘perfect level of balance’ is, aren’t we 🙂

  14. This post reflects my sentiments in the sense that I have experienced those times when I feel that my parents are too attached to me. Sometimes, I tell them to not remain so attached, not for my benefit but for their own. However, I do believe that there is a time and age for everything and when it’ll happen, you’ll be left wondering. Maybe even craving to go back to ‘how things used to be’. It’s all part of growing up and evolving and I hope that whenever you decide to ‘let go’ of your daughter, it’s a mutual choice.
    ~ Sheth’s Perspective 🙂

    • @ShethP, quite true, more so with things like letting go and similar sentiments, there surely is a time and age for everything and most of these things happen on their own, just that we have to be conscious of them when they actually happen, that’s all 🙂

  15. Man i thought i was really writing some serious things on my blog.But now i understood i have a long way to go.This one i loved.
    i am from kerala and you know i only can write and understood simple english writings with no intellectual words and all.so i think finally i landed on
    something in your posts i can get a hold off.By this new friendship i am also thinking to better my english as well.I know my blog compared to yours is nothing.
    But i hope you like my posts.Sometimes hope is a terrific word to have right?
    By the way change your name to mahafun.take care.god bless.

  16. Cute post Jairam Mohan. I sense how I feel when your little one turned to you and all let go vanish by the window. But, over the years, I started believe in disconnecting myself from life and materialistic stuff. You know, I would not like to cal myself selfish but I stay with mom but planning to move away from career prospect and growth in ma career. I am also planning to move for happiness. I know, mom will be alone, but, sometimes one needs to detach in a way..quite a complicated decision.but I wanna do things that’ll make me happy. Completely
    Off topic but wanted to hear ur views.

    • @Vishal, I personally believe that everybody should follow a path that is completely their own and based on decisions and parameters that each one feels is appropriate for them under the given circumstances

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