Motherhood is… Learning when to let go

Posted on November 27, 2011

Mr4 has found the sweet spot on his bike. He is off and racing. Little legs pumping, concentration fierce. He still wobbles. He still worries. But he’s doing it. With his eyes open.

It has taken a little while for him to get going. I found him on the grass this afternoon, in tears. Mr7 told me that he’d forgotten to push off when he lifted his foot. Balancing on a stationary bike is best left to the professionals. “He went sideways, Mum,” said Mr7, solemnly.

Mr4 looked up at me, face screwed up, red and angry. “I’m okay,” he said, between sobs. “I don’t need you. I don’t need you.”

I backed away.

We took them out, to a place with space and paths on which to spread his wings. He tried at first with me puffing along behind, holding the back of his seat, shouting instructions as he wibbled towards the road and wobbled towards the trees. “Let go, Mum, let go,” he screamed back.

I couldn’t. He was too wobbly, he wasn’t steering straight. All I could foresee was disaster.

On the return journey, he refused my help, turning to his Dad. Mr7 and I made our way back to the car. “Coming through!” we heard, a few metres up the track. I turned and there was Mr4 riding towards me, The Builder running behind shrieking (in a manly way) “You’re doing it! You’re doing it” (I tell you, it’s catching). He rode to the end of the path, turned and returned.

“You held on for too long,” he told me, serene in his new ability. “You have to let go. I can’t ride unless you let go.”

I nodded, message finally understood.

Oh, but this motherhood gig is hard.



  1. Rashida

    You made me teary with this post – beautifully written! I experienced this with my little boy today when he went off to spend half a day with his auntie and I kept watching the clock. So hard to let go!

  2. Megan Blandford

    “I can’t ride unless you let go” – very wise words from your boy.

    I think this is my favourite post of yours ever ever ever (to quote my girl!).

  3. foxinflats

    Ah…so that’s why my boys still can’t ride bikes.
    Thanks Alison, now I get it.

  4. EmmaK

    Lovely sentiments. I guess I have always been the opposite type ….just pushing them to try anything at an early age.

  5. MultipleMum

    How did he get so wise? And so clever? His BIG cousin can’t even do that! Yay to Mr4. What advice does he have for grumpy kids who won’t sleep? Just askin’.

  6. ClaireyHewitt

    Too long…never. Not possible. Well, maybe when bike riding is concerned, it could be a new way to get fit.

  7. River

    “you held on too long” so hard to hear that from a four year old.
    I love your holly leaf header.

  8. workingwomenaustralia

    This will be the first of many times he’ll ask you to ‘let go’. It doesn’t get any easier.

    Beautiful post

  9. danneromero

    So sad, yet so great ….the independence he’s exhibiting.

    I do agree, though, mothering is a hard gig, for sure.

  10. Jodi @ Lipgloss Mumma

    Independence is a two pronged fork. Hard to let go, but a wonderful feeling at the same time. x

  11. Giving Back Girl

    Oh how I love this. My 11 year old, has not only demanded I let go, but has started finding me embarrassing. Shudder. But I will always demand a kiss/hug/arm rub/fumble at the school gates. And I’m still the one he wants to turn off his light each night. Beautiful post. Thank you!

  12. Charis

    That’s just adorable! Thanks for sharing this sweet story x

  13. Veggie Mama

    Is it normal to cry reading this? sigh. gorgeous.

  14. tinsenpup

    Oh awesome. Sometimes the lessons we have to learn are just hitting us over the head, aren’t they? lol

  15. edenland

    Exquisite. And now I’m crying.

    I don’t think we can ever fully let go. Ever.


  16. Kelly Exeter

    Have I mentioned I am in love with Mr 4? Gorgeous lesson for us all.

  17. Lisa Lintern

    Gorgeous post. Afraid, I’m not great at letting go either. For me it’s in the water. Mr 4 has discovered he CAN swim under water, once he manages to free himself from mummy’s vice-like grip. I have a feeling when he’s a teenager, I’ll still be there…gripping onto the back of his shirt.
    Your writing is beautiful. It really is. xo

  18. Veronica @ Mixed Gems

    A parable out of the mouth of babes. I find I’m on my training wheels as a parent a lot of the time too. Who lets go of me? 😉

  19. mel @ loved

    I’ll say! Congratulations to your Mr 4, what a brave little guy. They teach us every day..

  20. Rosie

    What a beautiful lesson for all of us. So hard to let go. Will they fly or fall? Most likely both. but we fall batman so we learn to get back up.

  21. joeh

    YOu get an A+ on that one!

    It is still hard to let go when they’re 40!

    The Cranky Old Man

  22. Diminishing Lucy

    But I don’t wanna let go yet….

    Well done to Mr 4

    And well done to you too.


  23. therhythmmethod

    Riding a bike is a tough lesson for everyone. This was just gorgeous.
    My Mr 5 has now mastered turning left AND right after several months of riding his bike. We are all rather relieved, given the path to school involves a few right turns. 😉

  24. Kim H

    On the eve of Lewi’s 12th birthday I have to say this post brought a tear to my eye. Letting go is soooo hard. Thankfully it doesn’t just happen over night and even at nearly {!!!} 12, Lewi still needs me in ways other than holding onto the back of his bike seat.Motherhood is definitely a hard gig, but it’s also very cool:)

  25. Marcy

    Beautiful piece. It’s so hard to know when to let go–sometimes I do it too soon, and sometimes I do it too late. And each year the timing changes.

  26. Marion Williams-Bennett

    “You held on for too long,” he told me, serene in his new ability. “You have to let go. I can’t ride unless you let go.”

    While know we will here that about a hundred more times before they reach 20, each time it will take a little piece of our heart.

    Yay for Mr. 4!

  27. Maxabella

    They can’t ride if we don’t let go.

    Thank you, Mr 4. x

  28. Cate Bolt

    Ahhhh-ha! See, what you need here is more kids. No trouble letting go when you have so many. There’s plenty of spares if you break one.

  29. Vicky

    motherhood is bittersweet…

    I had to learn to let go recently too.

  30. Mum on the Run

    Bless him.
    Wise words, little man.
    It’s so hard though, isn’t it.
    I’m afraid we might need them more than they need us.
    Excuse me while I weep.

  31. Coal Valley View

    So true! I am reminded of this all the time xx

  32. Jackie

    It sure is.
    Thanks for reminding us that we do need to let go.

  33. PinkPatentMaryJanes

    Did you hear the sound of my heart breaking? That was just beautiful. Just, so, beautiful x


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