Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone
During my (brief) stint as an English teacher, I was lucky enough to watch students—many that I mistakenly assumed would crash and burn by mid-year—rise up, turn things around, and reach goals that were once just dreams. There were, of course, mini-crashes—and, for some, major disasters—along the way, but there were also major triumphs. And the truth is, without those setbacks, victory might not have been possible—and it definitely wouldn’t have been as sweet. I swore that, if I ever had a child, I would remember the students that inspired me—and I would remember that the kids who were given the freedom to try new things and make mistakes were the most compassionate and brave and resilient.
Lately, I’m not really clear about how my current job description—if one actually existed—would read. On days when I’m feeling relatively balanced, I’m pretty sure my list of responsibilities includes making sure that Lily is fed, bathed, diapered, and clothed—and, of course, given numerous opportunities to explore, discover, and learn about the world around her while taking safe and calculated risks (so that she can become a confident, capable, thoughtful, and conscientious member of society). Pretty good, huh?
And then there are days like yesterday, when I walk around for the better part of the morning (and afternoon, and evening) with sweaty palms and heart palpitations because I’ve been watching too much CNN and I’m so overwhelmed by the big stuff that I have to obsess about every little possibility just because it seems more manageable: I’m afraid that Lily might bonk her head on the linoleum floor (again) while trying to get to Charlotte, or because I’m certain that she’s going to pinch her fingers in the coffee table drawer (which hasn’t happened yet, but we’ve been close), or because I’m absolutely terrified that she’s going to grow up way too fast and encounter really challenging situations that are going to transform her into Lily-the-grownup much faster than I’m comfortable with (which is probably inevitable). Needless to say, I spend a lot of time removing her from potentially difficult/dangerous situations instead of teaching her how to navigate them. On these days, I’d swear that I’m supposed to be her protector, day-saver, and certified catcher in the rye. Not so helpful, actually– and definitely not so healthy.
Thank goodness for middle of the night feedings–and aha! moments.
When Lily shrieks woke me up just before 2am this morning, I rushed into her room, panicked and not at all sure of what I’d find. There she was, droopy eyed and half-asleep, standing tall and holding onto her crib for dear life. Apparently my sweet little-big girl, who happens to be an excellent stander, is not so skilled in the art of transitioning herself out of the standing position. And I realized immediately—again—that my fear had, quite literally, gotten in the way of her progress.
I’m certain that I’ve been here before– and I’m pretty confident that I’ll wind up here again. But I think I’m learning, sloooowly, that it’s ok– and even totally necessary– for Lily to fall down, and to get hurt, and to figure out how not to make the same mistakes over and over (like her mother does :)).
Pass the bubble wrap, please.