The Gift of Letting Go

By Ann Brennan

I love being a mom. I loved the early days when all I wanted to do was hold them, watching every expression on their faces, turning their hands this way and that in complete and utter awe that they were mine. I loved teaching them to ride a bike, read and swim. And even now as I prepare to ship my oldest off to West Point in just two short months I love watching him grow into the man who will have a family of his own some day.

I love my children with all of my heart or as Zane says, “all the way to the moon and around all the planets, including Pluto and back to Earth and around all the houses.” But children grow up. I have known from the minute each of them was born that there would come a day when I would have to let them go. Even as they lay in my arms, sound asleep I cried at the very thought I would one day have to drop them off at college.

So, I did the only thing I could do. I prepared for the inevitable. I prepared by not letting my life completely revolve around theirs. I prepared by teaching them a sense of independence and by showing them that I am, whether they wanted to admit it or not, an independent person as well.

When they were younger, I taught them this by allowing them to have their quiet time, instead of a naptime, on the other side of the room from my treadmill. They could choose what they wanted to play as long as they did it quietly and didn’t disturb mommy’s running time. As they grew older they began to see the training schedule taped to the refrigerator and they came to understand that the days marked as long runs were mommy’s days. This was a great lesson for them.

But, it was a better lesson for me. By taking the me-time, by prioritizing my run in their lives I taught them that it was alright to give and I taught myself that it was alright to take.

The greatest moment of clarity came to me during the JFK 50-miler. Blaise and Megan were five and three years old, respectively. My husband was in the middle of his second year of law school and my life was a whirlwind of activity. But that day, as I was making my way down the towpath and runners on every side of me complained about how tired they were, I was filled with joy. I couldn’t believe my luck – thirteen hours without screaming, fighting children, thirteen hours all by myself doing something just for me.

Over the years I have moved from marathons to triathlons. I have become a fitness writer, making my running even more of a focus in my life but what I have really done is to become my own person.

Yes, I am Blaise, Megan and Zane’s mom. Yes, I am a wife, editor and writer. But I am also the runner and triathlete. By giving myself the gift of running and in turn the gift of time, I have given myself the gift of independence and I have given myself the ability to let my children become the people they were meant to be.

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About Ann Brennan

Ann Brennan is first and foremost a mom of three beautiful children. She is the managing editor of Beyond Limits Magazine and the creator of Ann’s Running Commentary. In 2012, Ann took Ann’s Running Commentary to new levels – first with a segment on the RunRunLive Podcast, chronicling her journey to her first Ironman and second, with a new channel on YouTube. Currently Ann is working on a non-fiction book series and working hard every day to remind people to get up, get active and get out there.
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8 Responses to The Gift of Letting Go

  1. Paula Kiger says:

    LOL I get the 13 hours to have downtime part, for sure!! Beautifully written.

  2. Mike Binnix says:

    I’m still predicting water works outside the gates of West Point this summer. :-)

  3. Love this. I think the greatest gift a parent can give a child is NOT letting them think the world revolves around them, if only for a few hours a week. It’s always sad to see a parent who uses their children as an excuse not to take time to keep up friendships, get exercise, etc.

    You’re a fantastic mom and your kids will reflect that!

  4. Ann Brennan says:

    I think you are a smart man. I am praying it will be a sunny day and my big sunglasses hide the tears.

  5. Ann Brennan says:

    Thanks. We always doubt our parenting abilities but I hope I got it right.

  6. Pamela says:

    Hear! Hear!!!!

  7. Amy Reinink says:

    I’ve been reminiscing about my dad a lot lately, and one of his greatest traits was his ability to truly love generously—without any sense of obligation, which can be such an unfortunate part of adult parent-child relationships. It made me love him all the more, of course, and I’m sure the same is true of your son.

  8. Well said. As a relatively new dad (daughter is 13 mos old) and runner / marathoner, I can appreciate this philosophy, too.

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