The art of letting go: Truths about parenthood

Adrianna Mejia
Holaina Tan, mother of 4-year-old Aki, shares her own journey as a parent and how it changed her life

MANILA, Philippines – Imagine just staring at a blank space pondering about a major turning point in your life. A big change or shifting into something entirely new and unfamiliar – where it’s not just about you and your own needs and wants anymore.

Welcome to parenthood. Where life is now also about another human being that you will carry in your womb for 9 months (!!). A life that will be about learning and unlearning, and full of challenges and surprises. But also a life now with greater purpose and meaning.

Welcome home, Aki

Holaina Tan or Holen, gave birth to baby girl Akira aka “Aki” in 2013. They have been inseparable ever since. 

She says that her husband, Jason, has always been supportive. When they found out that she was expecting, they decided for her to focus on her pregnancy and resign from her full-time job. Holen shares: “This was my first pregnancy, and I wanted to have a wonderful experience, too. For me that was a good foundation: look at the pregnancy holistically and try not to stress and fuss and just have a wonderful time.”

PARTNERS IN CRIME. Holen and Aki goofing around. All photos courtesy of Holaina Tan

“I’m a full-time mother and a housewife. My kid and I are together day in and day out for the most part, so I need her to understand that mama has other jobs to do and not just take care of her. It’s tough when you’re a stay-at-home-parent, they can get really attached, but it also gets better once they are able to help out in the house, even with small things.”

From the start, she made sure that she taught Aki to have a sense of responsibility, to be aware of how things worked out at home and there were rules to follow and not forced upon.

Holen shares that one of her struggles was to break free from some practices she experienced when she was a child. “It can be such a default mode for moms, tell them to do something because ‘I said so’ so I really try to catch myself and watch out,” she shares. And this led her to develop her own parenting style.

GROWING UP. Aki's first chore was to feed their household pets.

“One of Akira’s earliest chores is to feed our pets – we saw this funny YouTube video of a kid feeding Corgis and we got such a laugh out of the cuteness of the whole thing, but it also inspired us! This is something Aki can do! Up to now, she’s the one who feeds our pets when she’s at home,” she says.

Aki also helps in setting the table, carrying plates and placemats. And if her grandparents swoop in to help her, she says, “I can do it by myself.”

This not only taught Aki to be independent but also inspired and taught Holen many things. There was an instance when her daughter asked her to apologize because she promised her a trip to Kidzoona but it didn’t push through. “I believe my kid deserved a sincere apology because I did promise,” she says.

The art of letting go

It’s natural for kids to be curious about the world around them. They will run around, touch things they see, and maybe even put these in their mouths (food or not!). So any parent would do everything that they can to make sure their kids are healthy from the inside and protect them even if they’re not present. This gives them the confidence that their kids are ready to explore on their own. It may not always go as planned, but it’s a step to letting go.

EXPLORE. Aki being her adventurous self.

Holen and Jason raised Aki to be determined with whatever she aims to do, even in the simple things in life. Now that she’s 4 years old, Aki has grown to have a sense of curiosity, mindful of the people around her – adults and kids alike – and is not afraid to try new things, even on her own.

She says that when Aki started to walk and run by herself, that’s when she and her husband slowly started to let go. When she’d fall or slip they don’t panic. They approach her calmly, check with her to make sure everything is okay, and assure her that she’s fine. 

“I think we’ve established that our kid has the freedom to try and do new or more complex things if she thinks she is capable of doing them, and our job as parents is to stand back and let her try,” she shares. “Nowadays our attitude is to just let her be if she says she can do it.”

LET HER TRY. Aki taking photos with her dad's camera.

It’s a difficult process, but if it will allow her to become the best version of herself, then she’s all for it.

“Some say it’s the parents that have a harder time letting go of their children, and I can surely relate. My daughter will always be my baby, but I also tell myself she’ll never be a badass independent individual if we’re constantly fretting and assisting, and I don’t want that.”

Parenthood is a never-ending journey

Of course, as Holen is proud Aki is  growing up to be her own person, there are everyday struggles. Letting go and unlearning of past habits, and finding time for herself after a long day, just to name a few.

Parents go through their own special and unique journey. They may not have everything under control 24/7, they do get tired and wish they can sleep more or may even wonder if they’re raising their kids the right way. But overcoming these obstacles only make them and the whole experience of parenthood better and more fulfilling.

Same goes for letting go. At the end of the day, it’s a struggle but it will be worth it. “It only seems difficult at first, letting your kids do things on their own, but I do believe that once they’ve expressed the desire to, we should be supportive,” says Holen. “The good thing is letting the kids go off on their own is a gradual process – there is time to adjust for both the parent and the child.”

 FAMILY. Holen with Aki and husband Jason.

Anyone can attest that letting go in any situation is never easy yet it’s necessary to make room for greater things. You may not always face the best experiences, but that’s when your kids start to find and mold themselves into the person they’re meant to become.

Holen shares: “I consciously try to appreciate and take note of all the little changes that happen every month, every year, all these small things that indicate she is growing and being more aware. There’s no stopping it, so I try to hold on to these little pieces of her childhood before they all go away. There’s a tinge of sadness, but there’s more pride. She’s growing well – I just need to let her.” – Rappler.com