"Detach... detach... detach..." I have been saying to myself, over and over again, for the last 24+ hours. And it is so very difficult, especially since I've had no news from Sheffield during this time. They say that "no news is good news", but unfortunately that's not the case with Ben and uni. Well, not at the moment at any rate. And I am a natural worrier. I always was. Like the time my little sister got locked into our Granny's bathroom when we were small.
I clearly remember pacing up and down outside the bathroom door, weeping and worried sick. Yet when the handyman arrived and climbed in the bathroom window to 'rescue' my sister, there she was, calmly eating Polo mints, cross-legged on the floor, without a care in the world.
"Beverley is such a worrier," they would say...
That particular Grandma was a mega-worrier too. I only had to sneeze as a child and she was convinced I was about to drop dead.
So is detachment the same as forcing yourself not to worry?
No, I don't think so.
As a parent, it's natural to worry or be concerned.
But over-worrying or trying to work out how to solve things you can't solve isn't helpful.
Neither is zooming in to either take over or 'help'. Unless it is a true emergency, of course.
I think that detachment is all about accepting the fact that it's natural to worry and keeping an eye open for a true emergency while setting yourself free from the kind of worrying that's destructive, not constructive or a waste of time, energy and emotions. In other words, there are some things you can change, but it's pointless worrying about things you have no control over.
Detachment, as I see it, is also about knowing when to let your child tackle their own problems and find solutions, when to allow them to face scary situations, when to allow them to learn from the consequences of any actions they take - or don't take.
I've been doing a lot of CBT visualisation which seems to kind of establish the right sort of balance for me.
When I was small, steam engines still ran on British Rail and we'd take the steam Devonian express train to Weston-Super-Mare every summer (where my other Grandparents lived). On the other side of Birmingham, at Bromsgrove, is a steep bit of track called the Lickey Incline which steam trains couldn't get up without help from 'banker' engines which would literally push them up the hill from behind. At the top, the express train would continue on its journey, parting company with the buffers of the 'banker' engine which would toddle off back down the hill to wait for the next train.
This is the image that I bring to mind when I want to emotionally detach. I've pushed Ben up the hill and now he's continuing the journey on his own.
But, of course, I'm always here to push him back up the hill in a true emergency, should he need it.
Meanwhile check out this wonderful archive footage of the Lickey Incline, in 1958, the year I was born: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXD659VTJvg