My sweet 4-year-old daughter, Miss R, climbed out of an afternoon bath and started drying off. I was about to leave the bathroom, as her clothes were already on the counter, when she said, “No Mommy. I can’t do it.”
Now, this puzzled me. Miss R is fierce and independent. She can do anything, by herself, without me. Her 4th birthday declaration was that she was a big enough girl to do barn chores alone. She dresses herself every day. So why, all of a sudden, couldn’t she do it?
I sat down on the edge of the tub, ready to help her get dressed. I did protest once that no, she could dress herself, and she said she couldn’t. As soon as I sat down, she turned her back to me and dressed herself, with ease. She didn’t ask which way the panties go, or which way to put the dress on. She didn’t ask me to fix her socks (and goodness she is picky about how she wears them). She just dressed herself.
I watched in silence. I’m always evaluating my parenting choices, the direction I thought past choices were taking me vs. where I am, and what choices I can make better. In this little afternoon moment, my heart swelled. I hope my kids always know they are capable. I hope and pray they embrace adulthood, take it head on, and tackle the road ahead. I pray they hear the Spirit’s prompting and are fully dependent on God. But I don’t ever hope they rely on me, maybe because I’m afraid I’ll let them down (which, fact of life or not, makes me sad).
In this little afternoon moment, I was humbled. She felt more able just because I was there. She didn’t need me to do anything for her. She just needed me to be with her. I have a new prayer. I pray my kids always feel more sure of themselves and more capable for having been in my presence. Not because I did anything, or even because I had any advice or answers, just simply because as their mom I am a comfort and a calm and I am empowering to them. I pray that God renews my strength for these small moments, that He keeps me patient, helps me be available, and helps me show, through many small actions, that I will always be there to support, love, and pick my kids up when they need it. But by the grace of God Himself, I pray I am always wise enough to hang back, to let them do it, to give them room to try, to make a mistake, to succeed, to soar. (Another post for another day, I also pray that I don’t lose my identity in wanting them to need me, either.)
It’s funny how writing these things down and putting my thoughts on paper (screen?) broadens my perspective. Instead of fear that I’ll let them down, I’ll add to that prayer that God equips them to overcome disappointments and let downs that come from something I’ve done or said (or not done, or not said). I pray that God will overcome my fear with His perfect love, and I praise Him over and over for picking me to be their mom. I don’t deserve this life He’s given me, or these people He’s loaned to me, but I am grateful to have each of them. Our God gives good, good gifts.