You’re growing up so quickly.
We’ve tried to deny it. We’ve tried to ignore it. We’ve tried to insist that you’ll be our baby girl forever.
Sitting in the park, watching you scale the steps and whoosh down the slide all by yourself, and suddenly it’s very hard to deny that you’re growing up.
“How old is she?”, people ask us. When I reply “two and a bit”, my voice catches in my chest. Sometimes I feel a little tearful.
Watching you grow up is an absolute privilege, but it’s also so painful. Every day, you do something to remind us that you’re gaining independence. Taking on the slide. Putting your shoes on. Not asking daddy for help to get your t-shirt on this morning. More and more, you’re showing us that you’re not a baby anymore.
There are two gifts we should give our children. One is roots, and the other is wings.
I didn’t realise that while we were so busy trying to give you the roots, you were already trying to spread your wings.
Even as I’m writing this, I know it sounds like I’m upset. It’s as though I resent you growing up – I’m grieving, in a way.
I’m not. There’s no grief or sadness, and certainly no resentment. I couldn’t be prouder of your independence. You have a thirst for adventure and a fearless heart; those qualities will see you go so very far in your life.
I just worry; will you still need us?
Watching you scale those steps like they’re nothing.
“Do you want me to help, baby?”.
“No, mommy. I do it”.
You’re supposed to need our help climbing steps, and getting down the slide safely, and putting your clothes on in the morning.
Our job as parents is to help you learn to do those things. The fact that you’re doing them already means it’s mission accomplished, I guess. And there are so many more things we still need to teach you. So many things you can’t do yet, that you still need us for.
You still need us to brush and braid your hair. You need us to choose your clothes in the mornings; to help you brush your teeth; to read you stories and teach you how to count. You need us to sing the Goodnight Song to you, and tuck you in, and kiss you goodnight.
One day, you won’t need us to do those things either, and that will be okay. We will have done our job as parents; to teach you all of these things while filling your life with love and security. It reminds me of another phrase about childhood.
It is not what you do for your children, but what you teach them to do for themselves, that will make them successful adults.
Every now and then, I still need my mum. I need her hugs, her jokes, her reassurance that everything will be okay. I hope that one day, we have the same relationship that I have with my own mum.
For now, I’ll celebrate your achievements – every ladder you climb, every slide you zoom down, every time you get your shoes on the right feet – and I’ll cherish the moments you need my help. I’ll make the most of braiding your hair and brushing your teeth and tucking you in at night.
The moment when you realise your child can do things without your help is a moment no parenting manual can prepare you for. The sadness of seeing how quickly time passes and feeling slightly more obsolete in your child’s life is hugely outweighed by the pride of seeing them achieve, and knowing that you have done right as a parent.
In giving them the comfort and security of roots, not only do we give them wings, but we give them the courage to take flight.