It’s hardest when I’m the driver. I hear her desperate little voice ask, “Hand?” So I reach back, even though a shoulder/neck kink is sure to follow, and I hold her hand.
I do it because her toddler heart and mind can’t push through whatever current frustration is making hand-holding essential. She shouldn’t have to figure out grit in that moment.
Other scenarios play our differently. She falls. She gets up. I encourage her. “We always try,” is a follow-up statement that I regularly employ. I can’t stand quitters and won’t let my child give up after a simple misstep.
I am reasonable. She’s not being forced down some crazy road of “perfection or bust” nor is she being taught that I’m not here for her. I will kiss the cuts and scrapes, no matter how minor. (She’s only 20 months old, for crying out loud!) And I freely admit to her that things don’t always go as planned. However, I will not add another child to the large pot of lazy.
She will not be the teenager (or young adult or full-grown adult) who stands idly around waiting to be told what to do while secretly hoping no one will pipe up so that she can slip out without lifting a finger. She will learn the joy of taking initiative, of scanning the scene and figuring out what needs to be done. And when she can’t easily figure that out, she’ll know to open up her mouth and ask.
Her goals in life won’t be self-centered. She’ll learn to play, have fun, kick back when needed and she’ll learn to work well and hard for the bigger picture beyond her comforts. She’ll learn the value of resources, be they time, money or other people’s wisdom.
Efficiency will become her middle name and she’ll learn that multitasking is mostly a waste of time. She’ll learn to delay gratification and that peace is easier to experience in less versus more.
She will love her gifts and use them fully whenever possible. She’ll also take the lackluster job at a fast food joint if that’s the only thing available while she’s in college–and she’ll do it well until she finds something else.
She won’t be afraid of people who don’t share her dreams or beliefs–some of them will be her friends. She’ll be clear on what she does believe while also admitting to the grey space that often exists, some of it a godly mystery. And her relationship with God will be one of honest, regular communion and faithful obedience.
She’ll learn that being a neighbor isn’t possible with everyone at the same level of connection and yet is more than waving as they drive by. She’ll be emotionally healthy enough to open up her heart while also setting up boundaries. And when her heart does break, she will learn to cry, to give herself time, to forgive. And she’ll grow stronger…
I know, I’ve only just begun to parent. I don’t yet know how much my heart will break as my daughter grows up and experiences life so differently from what I’ve dreamed up for her. I know. I know I can’t do the vicarious living thing–I know it doesn’t work. I know.
Yet for now this is a strange catharsis.
She’s alive so get to dream up her incredibly beautiful future. And I get to do it while holding her hand.
Still thinking about today’s massacre in Orlando, FL. Still unsure of how to process. This is my current way of somehow saying to potentially 50 different mothers who’s dreams have been stolen, “I mourn with you, my heart is with yours.”