Our children are confident and strong. They tackle challenges with glee and without the fear that can come with age and experience. I am often afraid as I watch them approach physical challenges, imagining the pain of failure or worse, of a fall. Yet I let them try. We learn by attempting to reach summits throughout our lives. Letting them climb is our way of telling our kids to take life by the horns, experience it, try it, live it.
And so they begin to go up. We help when asked, but the sharp rocks do not scare them. I am holding my breath as I watch the ascent.
I love to reach the top of any peak. The feeling of accomplishment is incredible. Sophia and Miles reached the top of these course beach rocks. I could see they were proud. I shared the feeling. For me it was a mix of pride and relief. I grew up climbing beach rocks. They cut quickly and unexpectedly. I let out a deep breath and a loud cheer for my children.
Sophia’s face sitting on the top of this tiny summit was full of satisfaction. As a parent, I could see that face in her past and look forward to seeing it at the big moments in her life. Watching your children succeed is sweet indeed.
When it was time to descend, her confidence waned, and a look of fear appeared on her face. I knew, looking down, that she needed encouragement. Miles easily followed our directions and took my husband’s hand while he carefully stepped from one rock to the next, until his feet hit the sand. Sophia looked down and her trust in her abilities and our directions failed. She is older and wiser and at the point where for the first time in her life, she questions us. She still has the courage of a small child, but now has the beginnings of knowledge that create fear for older children and adults. She knows what could happen.
She still needs me. I knew it immediately. She did not want direction. She wanted my hands. She will always have my help when she needs it. All of my kids will. We let them go. We encourage independence. When they try we are supportive. But. We will always help them when they need it.
I climbed the rocks to meet her on the summit and help her down to the beach. I held her and she smiled. Her body relaxed and together we carefully came down.
As soon as our feet hit the sand, she regained her giddy sense of accomplishment. She walked away, as she will time and again throughout her life. I am her mother. I am her friend. I am her support. But she is her own person. I am happy that she still needs me. I am also happy to watch her stand tall and take on the world.