Saturday, April 21, 2012

Letting Go

Ryder climbed up the yellow wall on the playground. He stood gripping the top of the wall with one hand, the blue railing of the doorway with his other, and he was nudging his foot slowly over. He looked so big, way up high with his shiny shoes and his MTSU hoodie that he had dressed himself in for our February picnic and park day. Kids were laughing and running, and Ryder was silent and concentrating. In just a few moments, hands and feet came together, and he was running on the top level of the playgym, ready to slide down and start all over again.

He was oblivious to my fears below as I let him climb. I let him hold on with one hand while he reached for that bar with another. I watched as his tongue traced his lips in his concentrating pose. I wanted to tell him not to climb so high, not to let go with his hand, and most definitely to not stick his tongue out.... because every mother knows that is a sure way to bite your tongue completely off. But I didn't. I stood there silently, and I let him climb.

I stay at home with Ryder now, and we plan to homeschool when that comes...but no matter how much I am with him, I can't stop the process of being a mother learning to let go, and he is just three. I don't miss him being a little baby at all. I most definitely don't want to go back to those days of babbles and drools and me being his only means of locomotion. So much of my joy in him is learning who he is, and watching the boy, and eventually (very, very eventually :), the man he is on his way to becoming. But fighting that motherly urge to fix all his troubles and jump up every time he falls takes effort, and lots of it! And he is JUST THREE. His troubles usually revolve around an issue with sharing or with who is going to be Batman today, and while those are major to him, I know they are such small things compared to what he is going to face as he gets older. And there is a line, a tiny, almost invisible line that I am going to have to learn as a mother between letting him work things out on his own, and between keeping him safe and protected, and sweet and nice in a world that does not promote sweetness and niceness.

He is just three, and today he climbed all the way up the sunny yellow wall. And I watched silently...from my place directly beneath him, ready to catch him if he fell. (And I use catch loosely, because it would have more accurately been a softening of the fall, as both of us landed in a tangled heap on the ground). I hope I can always be standing beneath him, as I'm waiting for Ryder to grow and climb, even when one day, when he's older than three, and he's climbing out of my reach.

***Written in February 2011, but not posted.

Growing Up

I hold you in my lap now, and wonder how you ever fit curled up in my arms, with your long legs that reach to the floor, and slender arms that can squeeze the tightest hugs. After bathtime is the best with hair sticking up everywhere that smells of No More Tears shampoo, and a belly just starting to lose that toddler roundness, and wrinkly toes and a shiny clean face that I know will only last until the next jelly sandwich...if that long. And it takes extra long to comb your hair and brush your teeth and get on your pajamas because I am listening to you rattle off stories and questions and songs and happiness and right now, you still fit in my lap, head tucked underneath my chin, warm and cuddly, and full of warmth.

 And it's in these moments that I understand what parents mean when they say they don't want their kids to grow up. Because of course they want their kids to grow up, to learn and see and laugh and become. But I think maybe we mean that we don't want our kids to stop making up stories, and being proud that they picked up their toys without being asked. We don't want them to look in the sky and see clouds instead of dragons and trains and swords. I don't want him to look in the mirror and ever doubt that the person he sees is beautiful and wonderful and special and loved and created by God. I don't want him to stop giving me hugs and saying I love you and wanting to know who I think the bestest superhero ever is. I don't want you to realize that I don't have all the answers, and I can't fix all your problems, and that sometimes you will need more than a kiss and a band aid. Maybe what we really mean is that we want you to grow up; we just want you to do so without losing all of the child that you are now.

So while you are waiting for me to read your bedtime story, just know that I am treasuring these moments with you, and I am loving watching you grow and become the most amazing person I have ever met. And when I make you promise that you will never be too old to hug your momma, well, just count on it that I'm planning to hold you to that no matter how big you are. Because you may grow to be too big to sit in my lap one day, but your whole life will fit in my heart forever, and you will never outgrow that.