My daughter is not an easy child. I'm afraid to put that thought out into the universe but if we're being honest here (and that's what we do on weekend brunch, right?), it's the truth. Chloe has always been a child with her own mind and is propelled forward by her own momentum. "I can do it by myself, Mommy" is a phrase heard often around here.
Last weekend, we took Chloe out to the public skate at the local rink. This marked her fourth time on the ice and this girl was determined to get it right. She hopped on the ice and started... running. Do you know what happens when you try and run on ice? You fall. Again and again and again. But Chloe has always been a girl with only one speed: fast! Even as a toddler, she was always running away from me. She is the girl who can't give you a normal hug but instead must stand ten feet back and run towards you to give you a frenzied flying hug.
I skated alongside and watched her fall spectacularly, every "Slow down Chloe! Glide, sweetie, don't run" met with an "I know!" It was breaking my heart, seeing her so determined and frustrated. And then I realized I didn't have to teach her how to skate, I needed to teach her how to start.
As mothers, we are in a constant state of letting go. We set the markers and shine the light, showing our little ones the many ways to be independent of us. "Get your balance first Chloe. Stand up and be still. And once you're ready, go." I encouraged her, repeating my mantra, till she found her way. And she did, unsteady at first, then gliding around the rink confidently. And it made me sad.
It was in that moment that I saw that I am not an easy mother. I hold on and grasp tightly. I pull instead of push. And instead of celebrating how Chloe was outpacing me, I lamented that she wasn't there begging to hold my hand.
This letting go thing doesn't come natural to me. Does it come natural to any mother? From the moment when we one became two my instinct has always been to hold her in tightly, to anticipate every inevitability and protect her. But I was given a daughter who would leap when I would walk, whose strong will tests my safer boundaries. My hold on her has always ever been temporary. And I am still learning to be thankful for the countless falls, for they are opportunities for me to loosen my grip, just a little bit more.