When Holly, my first born, came into the world, I was not so sure she was really from my gene pool. You will never meet a more independent child than her. I am surprised she was not born on July 4, just to prove a point. In fact, when it came time to cut the umbilical cord, I was pretty sure I saw her reach over and hand my husband the surgical scissors. I thought little girls were supposed to be dependent, timid and clingy. At least that described me as a child.
As a young child, I would definitely have described myself as dependent and quite shy. I remember my first day of school as an unpleasant one. The night before my first day of school I couldn't wait to start, but when the time actually came for my mom to cut the apron strings, I was the one hiding the scissors. The class was filled with unfamiliar faces, smells and surroundings. Seeing my hesitation, mom lingered in the classroom for a while to get me settled in. What she did not know at the time was settling in was not on my to-do list that day. To say I was a little upset would have been an understatement. When it came time for her to say goodbye, I bawled, screamed and physically struggled for her to take me with her! I wanted the familiar faces, smells and surroundings I had gotten used to the past 5 years, and they were only found at home.
Holly's first day of pre-school was in complete contrast. She faced the day with an abundance of confidence; a little too much confidence for this mother. Although she was only three and a half, she had the confidence of a 21 year old, diploma in hand. She was as ready as she was going to be with pigtails bobbing and her Tinkerbelle backpack in place; she was eager to explore new terrain even though it did not include me or her baby brother. She had no regrets starting earlier than most children, but was I ready? That was the big question. Before I even had a chance to sign her name on the attendance role, she had walked past me and her new teacher to explore her new classroom. Unfamiliar smells, faces and surroundings did not produce fear, as they did me, but rather excitement over new things to learn and discover. If I didn't know better, I would think she had owned the place. Instead of me cutting the apron strings, Holly pulled her own out and cut them for us. As the other kids hugged and kissed their parents goodbye, my little Holly did not even look back.
Recently, while pulling up into her pre-school parking lot, she informed me I did not have to sign her in that today. She would sign herself in and I was to remain in the car, she boldly told me. Seriously, whose child is she really?! I thought.
Change that involves our children is not always welcomed. Even when it is a good change, it can be hard to adapt to. I have come to realize, it is not my daughter's independence that really troubles me, but rather my own worries that have become my biggest obstacle. Maybe that clingy little 5 year-old is still inside me, and I secretly want my daughter to be that same way. To depend and rely on me, so I can keep her close by forever.
Worries over our children are real for every mother. When our children were infants, cradling them in our arms meant they were safe and secure from all possible harm. Their dependence on us as mothers for food, shelter, love and guidance was very much demanded by them through their every cry, even if it was 2 in the morning. It was obvious to see their dependence on us then. And that was great because our nurturing nature was able to shine brightly during that time. But the older they get, the more liberty they demand, and the more we tend to worry about their wellbeing. During those times we wish we could just wrap them in a blanket and cradle them in our arms. Change will come and sooner than we want it too. With this knowledge, it is important that we learn to cast our worries on the Lord, for it is only when we surrender our children's wellbeing to Him that we can find rest.
I have come to accept that I cannot stop the inevitable. She will get bigger, smarter and more free. As much as I want to keep her forever under the safety of my wing, I realize it is only through letting her try her wings a little at a time that she will learn to fly on her own. And for those times when I am wondering how she is managing far away from the shelter of her little nest, I will remember that God is watching over her, and He can do a much better job than I ever can.