On Giving Roots ... and Wings

There comes a time when you realize that the tiny baby that changed your life forever is not a tiny baby anymore. She’s still little - she still needs mama, and she probably always will, but one day you realize she has begun her life's journey to independence.

And it totally wrecks me inside. For the last five years, all I’ve known is how to be Mama. And now, with one 5, and the other almost 3, I’m feeling like it’s time for a new identity. And that absolutely terrifies me.

I know it’s been happening in little pieces all along the way. First she started preschool. And then she dropped out. It was too hard for her … and for me too. Neither of us were ready.

And then we moved across the country. And I discovered that I wasn’t sure how to be anything really. This place we now live - it looks so different than the one where I learned to parent. Parenting has to look different here … because of the geography, because of the weather, because of the fact that we no longer live in the city. It’s been hard to find my place here … and in a lot of ways it’s been a rough road over the last 18 months. I found myself wrestling with a feeling that I needed something more than being just Mama. And yet at the same time, I wasn’t quite ready to let them go for any amounts of time - no matter how small or big.

But somewhere along the way we discovered she was ready for a little time on her own. So she started ballet. It was only 30 minutes a week, and I began to watch her go from timid and shy older toddler on that first day to incredibly excited preschooler every single week.

When she began asking about school, we discovered our homeschooling adventures just weren’t enough for her. So we started Pre-K. And she has flourished in that place more than I ever imagined she would. She thrives there. Learning, playing, discovering what it means to be independent and without Mama.

But today … today I dropped her off in a big room that was loud and full of people. She’s getting ready for her very first dance recital, and this is her first big rehearsal on the stage. Parents aren’t allowed, so I gave her a big hug and kisses, said thank you to the teachers and the teenagers who will be hanging out with them all day, and then I walked out the door.

And as I got in the car, the tears began to fall. Partly because she’s getting older and she doesn’t need me quite as much, but mostly because when I left, she was so nervous. She looked so overwhelmed with what was happening around her - like she wasn’t really ready for this, but she knew she had to be brave, so she would sit there and soak it in until someone led her somewhere else. I didn’t want to leave her like that … I wanted her to be excited - to immediately start talking to the other girls in her class … to be thrilled with what was about to happen. But instead, I saw a deer stuck in headlights look on her face. Excitement tempered by nervousness and feelings of being overwhelmed. She was so overwhelmed she didn’t even say goodbye.

It’s a damn good thing that she lathered herself in Sacred Mountain this morning, and that I did the same with Valor. Thank God it’s back in stock and a new bottle is already on it’s way to me. Because if this is what parenting is turning into … I’m going to need a vat of it in my house.

I think these feelings are part of the reason I had a deep longing to homeschool them both - a desire to just hang on to them and their littleness as long as possible. And part of me really loved those initial days of homeschool preschool. But then reality hit. Reality that I can’t give her everything she needs. The reality that this town that we now call home - it doesn’t give us the same opportunity for community the way we had in Atlanta. The reality that our community here will look different - and that public school will be a huge part of that community.

And perhaps the hardest part of all of that is admitting that I need something more. That as much as I do like teaching her and doing the homeschool thing, I also desperately need something that is for me. I desperately need the opportunity to fulfill the gifts and passions that God has placed in my heart without having to care for my children all day every day. Admitting that while my heart hurts that they are growing up and it’s time for them to do things without me, my heart is also SO looking forward to having that time to myself. Time to write and edit. Time to dream. Time to plan essential oil classes. Time to really create something incredible that has been percolating for the last year or so.

It's hard to admit that it is all okay. It is okay for me to not be their everything. It is absolutely okay that I want other adults to teach them things - while at the same time slightly wishing that it could be different. It’s okay for me to both want to be their everything and want to find myself once again.

This stage of parenting - it’s such a roller coaster. Maybe all stages of parenting are. They say it gets easier as they get older … and in so many ways that’s so true. But man - as they begin to separate from you and become their own little people with their own little minds and their own desires - it gets way more emotional.

I think of the tears in my own Mama’s eyes as I said goodbye to her right before we moved away. And I understand them more now than I ever did before. She knew in her heart that I would be okay … but she saw my own fear, my own insecurities, my own timidness and uncertainty … and she knew there was nothing she could do to make them disappear. She knew that she had to watch me do this on my own - with my family - and simply have faith that there would be people in my life that would care for me when she couldn’t.

These feelings of wanting to hold our kids close while at the same time watching them soar … they’ll never go away. And as we embark on this new journey and stage of parenting, I am encouraged by the artwork that hangs on our wall ...

There are two gifts we should give our children ... one is roots and the other is wings.