My Challenge: Robin

Today is pretty cool day for a Challenge. I have never met Robin, she isn’t a blogger and I wouldn’t know her if she hadn’t taken the time one day to reach out via e-mail and offer an avenue for me to explore with Boo. Beyond cool for me. When I asked her to write a Challenge for this series I had no idea what she would submit. Those of you with young children hold onto your Cheerios as Robin explains life after the kids grow up.

My Challenge: Letting Go

 My first reaction to Kerri’s invitation to present “My Challenge” was surprise, my second “no way I want to share!”  But as I started to think about it one challenge (I definitely have more than one!) immediately popped into my mind. I realized that it reaches into all aspects of my life and into that of others’ as well.  My challenge?  Letting go.

 
My children are now all adults (son 32, daughter 30 and son 26) and we’ve just welcomed our first grandchild.  As a parent to babies and young children I often found myself wishing for a speedier route to maturity! I was lucky enough to be able to stay at home with my kids but with a husband who worked a great deal and was continuing his education I often felt like a single parent.  As my children were growing up I lived under the mistaken assumption that parenting ended at 18 when the child officially became an adult.  Oh my!  I could not have been more mistaken!  As my children entered adulthood their struggles and strife grew along with them but I’m still their mom.  I have likened parenting older children to watching a train wreck.  When you can’t divert the train (and you often can’t) you just have to be there to help pick up the pieces.  Comforting a distressed first grader who was not picked first for dodgeball seemed like such a crisis at the time – fast forward to that same child who is now reeling from a soured long term relationship.  OUCH!  As moms we feel it is our job to “fix things” for our children.  Their hurt is our hurt only it feels even greater!  Watching someone you love struggle, hurt, suffer is so very painful.  When our children are little we often CAN fix things, sometimes with just a hug and a kiss!  As they grow up those hugs and kisses still let them know they are loved but they sure don’t go as far as they used to go! 
 
When it comes to learning to let go of some of that control (or perhaps perceived control) I have had some most unusual teachers.  For the past 12 years my family has raised Seeing Eye puppies.  I use the word “family” rather loosely here as somehow it always seemed to be Mom cleaning up the puppy accidents and messes!  We foster these special pups from 7 weeks of age until they are about 15 months old and mature enough to learn to guide in harness.  In that time we teach them basic obedience and get them out as much as possible exposing them to as many different environments, people and situations they may someday encounter as guide dogs.  When raising our first guide puppy I tried to be as “by the book” as possible.  I was determined to prepare this puppy well for his elite canine career.  I discovered there are a lot of parallels between raising kids and raising puppies!  (sure wish I’d started raising puppies first!)  When the pup left for training I was not prepared for the heartache of his departure.  But I knew that this was the plan and puppy #2 arrived to divert my attention if not blunt the sting of her predecessor’s exit.  You know what they say about the best laid plans…  
 
Puppy #1 was returned to us as he was not well suited for guide work, he worried too much!  Hmmmmmm, there is a lesson here as well.  Puppy #2 was a very different dog.  Not unlike having a second baby I relaxed more into her and let the puppy be a puppy!  She did well in training and went right into service.  This process has since repeated itself many more times with our current charge being our 11th puppy.  Some pups seem to be born to guide and some aren’t.  As long as you are doing your best in providing them what they need to be the best they can be the rest isn’t up to you.  It never was. There are always other plans.  A dog not suited to guide work may be a phenomenal bomb sniffer, therapy dog, search and rescue dog, or a comfort to a child.  No one career or life path is more important than another.  Each of us has something to offer the world. 
 
Having raised three children as well as continuing to give up a well-loved pup every year you would think I would finally have the “letting go” down pat.  Nope, it’s a learning process but one I continue to work through.  Each pup takes a piece of my heart with them and that’s OK.  It is theirs to take and I hope it contributes to their becoming a great guide dog.  I will always want to make life easier, safer, happier etc. for my children (and my puppies). But, there are times when I need to sit back and let life happen (and maybe not kick and scream so much when things don’t go my way?)
~Robin
 
Robin with one of her Seeing-Eye Dog trainees
 
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Robin told me that parenting adult children is a whole new ballgame with endless innings. Which cracked me up and seemed true. I know I am still responsible for my mom’s gray hairs. Robin and her family have been raising and training Seeing Eye Dogs for over ten years. This is a volunteer outfit, they are only paid by puppy kisses. If you would like to learn more or volunteer please visit the Seeing Eye for more information.

Thank you, Robin. For reaching out and for being willing to answer my e-mail with a Yes, of course!
 
What's your challenge is a series that was inspired by a program I created at Abby's school. I am amazed at how honest and hopeful the challenges have been. Thank you to all who have contributed. They are written by real people from all over the world. You do not have to be a writer to have a Challenge, just a desire to share for others. To submit your challenge, please e-mail me at firebailey@gmail.com
 
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I am participating in the 31 for 21 blog Challenge to raise awareness for Down Syndrome. 
 
 

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