Reaching the Summit

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.

Starting to Climb

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.

Kids on Summit

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.

Fear on the Summit

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.

Mommy Helps

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.

Sophia BeachLetting go is hard and beautiful, isn’t it?

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Yes, it is. Hard and beautiful. I hold my breath too when my toddler climbs, and jumps and does all those fearless things children their age do. And I hold my hands back to resist helping him when he doesn’t need help. But yes, when they do need it, it’s wonderful to be able to extend it.
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    • Brittany says:

      Oh yes. Read Dana’s comment and know that we will always be mommy to our kids in their hearts. They will always know that we can watch them leave our nest, but we will always be there to hold their hand and they will always be in our hearts.

  • Dana says:

    My oldest is graduating high school in about 8 weeks! Although your children are much younger than mine, this post hit me hard. (Please pass the tissues!) I well up with pride as I watch my daughter become a self-reliant woman, but it breaks my heart every time I think about her going out into the world on her own. It’s been my goal for 18 years to prepare her to be successful and independent. I should be thrilled, and I am. However, the ache in my chest is still there. Most of the time she feels as if she’s “got this,” but every once in awhile, she creeps out of her bedroom after everyone else is asleep to cuddle with me on the sofa to talk about her hopes and dreams, her doubts and fears, and I know she will always need her mama.

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    • Brittany says:

      What you said is exactly what I see when I imagine my kids growing up. Graduations, big trips, engagement, marriage. I can only hope that my kids will always know I am there for them! I remember my first week at college I called my mom and asked her to sing to me…the same songs we sang when we were little and laying in our beds. I love that your little big girl still wants some cuddle time!

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