I’ve been watching my little girl become more grown up lately. She is moving at least as fast as I did, maybe even edging toward “grown” a little quicker. This has brought a lot of emotion from both of us. Really what has brought the emotion are the hormonal flares we have both been prone to these past months. Is it fair to her that I expect her to control her emotions when her hormones are pushing her into this strange and uncomfortable place…no. No it’s not. It seems my mantra over her has been something like “feel all of the feelings, but, to the best of your ability, be in control of them.”. This is a hard lesson to learn at age ten. It is a hard lesson to practice a couple of decades later as well.
I see me in her, I wonder if she does too?
I try, every damn day to let her grow into who she was created to be. My jaw cracks sometimes from all of the clenching of it I’ve done as I’ve bit my tongue and swallowed words, and prayed for the correct ones to come out. It is a fine line to walk when you know the mistakes that lay in wait for your child. A harder walk to take when you parent a “stubborn” child, one who wants to learn all of the things in the most experiential way
allowed that she can create for herself. I have done my very best to not over-protect her from her young life, some would be justified in saying that I’ve really thrust her into a few hard things myself. When I look at this girl I see the fire burning behind a thin film of uncertainty.
Do all parents feel this for or about their kids?
When you have a smart kid, a girl who knows enough to know that life is going to be hard, at ten years old, but still chooses to see all of the joy? This is a gift. I’ve often wondered over how quickly children can forgive and forget, but for her to see my continued failings, to see my mistakes, my short-comings and for her to still count her life as joy? That is not from me to be sure. I have to work every day to find the joy, I write it down in my notebook, numbering the little things that make me smile. Sometimes listing things that simply didn’t make me scream or cry. She has it in her. That notebook is in her head, and she seems to instantly count off the good, good gifts that she is given each day. I admire this in her so much. I pray that she holds this inside of her heart as she grows, that this gift isn’t pushed out by all that life will try to fill her with.
When this same girl puts herself out there again and again, when she is bold and quiet, silly and sweet, peace and the storm…It is good to sit and reflect over her childhood as she moves, almost visibly, into the next phase of life. I have no rose-colored glasses over how her early teens will proceed. I feel like I only just exited this stage of life, I remember all too well how hard I was for my own mother. I am cautiously optimistic that I will give her the freedom she needs to grow into who she is while keeping any really negative things from falling in her path. I have no actual idea as to how I will do this, I’m sure I’ll mess it up a few times.
What she really needs though?
I think I know what she really needs. I know because I know what I lacked, what I had in abundance, and what I deeply wanted. While her needs and her life are (quite) different from mine I don’t doubt a bit that I know what I need to do for her. The question is if I will be able to do what needs doing. In providing stability and security and safety I hope to create in her a sense of trust. Trust in her own ability, in me always being there for her, in the circle she creates for herself. In allowing her to make choices for her own future I hope she sees that I trust her as well and that she will grow more confident because of that feeling.
In homeschooling this child I can see that I have given her more of what she needs. With the blended up family we have there have been hard days, difficult siblings, sadnesses that she really shouldn’t have had to deal with. By keeping her home and doing life with her every day-or at least most of them- I feel like we are able to manage all of these things together. We have worked to grow our community of people who love her, people who help her learn and deal with it all and become herself. We spend less time apart so we know each other well, we don’t have too many secrets and I hope that continues to be the case as she gets herself into more and more situations that she may want to hold close.
I did not intend to write about my girl today.
Some days when the weight of all that I let pile on my momma shoulders is just too much, I suppose it is natural to think back to where it began, or rather at who started me on this mothering journey. She is not the cause of my stress, don’t misunderstand, rather she is the reason I so willingly endure it. The tiny girl who surprised me with early signing, early walking, early talking, she taught me that I was absolutely not in control of what would come next or when it would come. When I look back I see that I have learned more from her about who I am and who I want to be than I have probably taught her so far. Perhaps in her teens that will shift and I can actually teach her a little about life…I have a feeling not though. She continues to teach me about how I parent and about what is good, and right, and holy.
I am lighter as I reach this final paragraph. My heart has been overfull with mothering the past few weeks, and it has been good to reflect a little here. It is good to stop and remember your “why” from time to time I suppose. She is my first “why”, I’ve been given four more since her, I do not take that responsibility lightly. I also don’t take my importance in this too seriously. She (they) will all do just what she needs to do in this life. After all they were not created in my image, but God’s, His path for them isn’t lit all the way to the end, there are plenty of twists and turns ahead. Places she (they) will stumble, valleys where I can stoop low and hold out an experienced hand. Darknesses where I can murmur that I’ve been there or simply sit with them in that place of uncertainty. My life, my place in her life is simple; I will walk beside, as quietly as I can be, supporting and guiding as she needs or allows. The roots of the tree of her.
And that? That is just enough.
I am hopeful that you got just what you needed from the rambling today. It seems those of you who need it usually do. Peace in where you are today.