One of the hardest things about being a mommy – or probably, a parent, but since I’m a mommy I’m focusing on that – is learning to let go. Certainly, that term means different things at different stages, but I’m just now getting to the point (since my oldest is five) where this is actually becoming an issue. Before, she was pretty dependent on me for everything, and that was okay. That was how it should be.
Then she started preschool and decided that she didn’t need Mommy to help her with much of anything anymore. Sometimes she’s not quite right, but sometimes she is. And I’m still trying to find the balance between the two.
Last weekend, we went to a birthday/swim party for one of her preschool friends. They had a “big” four-foot-deep pool. It was deeper water than she’d ever been in before, but all the other kids had moved over to the big pool, so she wanted to give it a try (with floaties on her arms and an inflatable ring around her waist to hold her up). But she wanted me holding her while she went into the pool. So, I held her and lowered her into the water, and she screamed in terror and begged to be pulled back up, and I pulled her back up to safety. Then, she asked to be put back down into the water, so I lowered her down into the pool again, and again she screamed in terror, so I pulled her back up. The third time, though, I lowered her into the water, and she said, “Let go, Mommy.” And I did.
She had a blast! She swam from one side of the pool to the other and back again, and she giggled the whole time. And it did this mommy’s heart good to see her overcome her fear and discover something new that she enjoyed doing.
Fast forward a week: We were at the playground at the zoo, and they had this thing there (I don’t even know what it’s called) with poles and wobbly steps that you can walk across like a bridge. Again, my little girl saw other kids enjoying this, so she wanted to try it too. I helped her across for the first several times she did it – even holding the poles closer together to move the steps, so she wouldn’t have as far to step – but when it was time to go, she begged to do it one more time. Then, she said those dreaded (for me, anyway) words, “Let go, Mommy.” So, I did, and she went across that thing all by herself (I didn’t even have to hold the steps closer together).
The look of pride and accomplishment was more than worth any little bit of disappoint I felt that my little girl is, in fact, growing up…and she’s becoming more and more independent. This, I understand, is the goal of parenting – to raise these kids so that they can go out and live productive lives on their own – but it doesn’t make it any easier for the parents, who keep remembering and picturing little helpless infants in cribs. Am I right?
And it struck me: How very different is our parenting goal from our Heavenly Father’s parenting goal. Our goal is to teach our children to be independent of us; His is to teach us to be dependent on Him. Praise God, He never lets go (see Joshua 1:5, among many others). And we need to teach our children to depend on God, as much as we need to remind ourselves daily to depend on Him, as well. This is just one of the truths about God I’ve been blessed to learn through my parenting of my own children. I’m sure there will be many more to come!