My daughter sat on the top step of the landing, halfway down the stairs at Granny's house. She idly kicked her feet and smiled as she looked up at us. I stood at the top of the stairs, gently reminding her to 'turn around and go feet first' the way she knows how. My mother-in-law stood behind me, in a state of panic, flustered and bothered, saying "Oh! Stop, stop! Oh! Go get her! Go to her! Oh! I'm going to have a heart attack!" I watched Smooch carefully turn herself around and slide down the steps on her belly, and hollered to my husband that she was on her way down. In that moment, I should have turned to my mother-in-law and asked, "Mum, what are you afraid of?" I know what her answer would have been, because she's said it so many times.
"I'm just afraid she's going to get hurt."
Yes. She is going to get hurt. And if we try and protect her from ever experiencing pain, we are preventing her from growing. Because pain is an inevitable part of growth. She is going to get physically hurt as she explores her world, and takes risks, and attempts new tasks. She is going to get emotionally hurt as she learns to give her heart away to friends and later, boyfriends. She is going to trip and bust her lip as she learns to run in rainboots. She is going to fall and bump her head as she gains the strength and desire to climb. She is going to have to learn about gravity, so that she learns her limits. She is going to get knocked over, she is going to skin her knee. She is going to have her heart broken, and she is going to be betrayed. She is going to fail in some of her attempts, she is going to struggle to accomplish some things. These things are inevitable, but they are not bad. They are an important part of the growing up process.
My hope is that as her mother, I can give her deep roots. Roots that sustain. Roots that nourish. Roots of humility and Godly wisdom. A foundation on which she can stand. A platform from which she can fly, and a safe place to fall. By building her up, and supporting her in her endeavors. By encouraging her to try again when she fails, by rejoicing with her when she succeeds. By gently correcting when she gets off track, by loving discipline when she rebels.
But I also want to give her wings. Wings of courage to take risks. Wings of confidence to take a step of faith. And eventually, wings of independence to step out on her own into the great unknown. I hope I can be brave enough to not clip her wings, in an effort to keep her out of trouble, to keep her safe, to keep her near. I want to be a brave mom who raises brave kids.
Some others who have inspired me to be a brave mom:
"Brave moms raise brave kids"
"Please don't help my kids"
"3 mistakes we make leading kids"
"Have American parents got it all backwards?"