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Forever Young: The Letting Go and The Holding Tight

Scott Allenby

There are moments in our lives as parents, moments we can anticipate but never fully appreciate, where we realize this life is not about us or our achievements, but about empowering our children to become the humans they are meant to be. These moments are hard, joyful, painful, and cut to the bone of our existence as parents. Today is one of those moments for those of us who are new Proctor parents. 

Proctor Academy Wilderness Orientation

From that first sleepless night in the hospital wondering how we could ever have been trusted to steward the little life that lies in our arms, our children teach us how to simultaneously hold onto their being with all that we have, while gradually letting that life blossom into its own. Through each milestone - their first steps, learning to ride a two wheeler, losing their first tooth, going off to their first day of school, their first play date, their first broken bone, their first sleepover - we watch as our children step forward with the confidence we hoped they would have, but that we haven’t quite granted them ourselves. We watch them stumble and fall and get back up, hell bent on being more independent than we are ready to accept. 

Proctor Academy Wilderness Orientation

We learn to gradually trust that our cumulative work, the never-ending, ceaseless love that we have poured into our children, has prepared them for what’s next. We trust that we have done enough to lay a foundation that will allow them to pursue their dreams, even when those dreams feel impossibly hard for our jaded adult brains to embrace. We trust that our role as parents will be supplemented by, not replaced by, other adults in their lives at Proctor, working together to solidify the foundation on which they are building their lives. 

Proctor Academy Wilderness Orientation

As we walked away from our oldest son, leaving him in the able hands of his Wilderness Orientation leaders, the advice I have written to parents over the past decade on this day hit a little closer to home. That bittersweet feeling of pride in the young person you have helped raise and the very real sense of loss you feel as they walk away from you into that which you have been praying they experience ties a knot in your stomach unlike any words on a page can describe. 

Proctor Academy Wilderness Orientation

It is in this moment of watching your child walk into their next big adventure that we have to remind each other that the letting go is even more important than the holding tight. Our children are capable of so much more than we think they are. They are ready, even when we realize we might not be. Our job, right now, is to let them walk with their own confidence into that which awaits them while we stand, hand in hand with each other as parents, beaming with pride in who our children have become as we smile and mourn and watch them continue to blossom. 

Proctor Academy Wilderness Orientation

The genius of Bob Dylan’s lyrics to Forever Young have served as a good reminder that the emotions we are experiencing right now are not novel, but a song resonating in the hearts of all parents who have been fortunate enough to have their children launch into the world. 

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
May you stay forever young
May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the light surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
May you stay forever young
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
And may you stay forever young
May you stay forever young

Check out more photos from the start of the year! 

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  • Parents
  • Wilderness Orientation