Independence Isn’t Easy
I can do it by myself.
I don’t need your help.
I want to go without you.
Parenting is hard. It just is. Not only in those moments of tantrums or tears or overtired children, but also in those moments of pure joy and beauty where you look at your child(ren) and realize that they are growing up. And you begin to think about this whole gig – a deal where you spend your entire life investing everything you have to give in another person, one who you love beyond any limits you could have possibly imagined, knowing that doing the right thing means that one day they are going to pack up and leave you for a life of their own. It is heartbreaking in so many ways, because as much as you want that for them, the journey to get there involves giving up more and more of your position as one of the most important focuses in their life. That’s not to say that you lose that status entirely (I’ll be the first to say that my parents are among the most important people in my life and the ones I go to for advice and support, but also just because I like them!) but you are constantly balancing on the edge of their development, where you have to give that push ahead to let them know it’s okay to leave you behind.
It begins with birth, when that little life you’ve been carrying around finally decides to meet the rest of the world face to face. You’re left with a beautiful new baby, but also an empty space inside, left behind as your newborn ventured out on his own to declare himself a separate person. It moves on from there – from putting on her own shoes to feeding himself with a spoon – the accomplishments are exciting and a reason for celebration, but also a reminder. Each day he is becoming more independent. Each year she is able to do more on her own. Some of the milestones are easy to celebrate. I can’t say I shed a single tear about everyone being able to wipe his or her own bottom. But others are harder. “Are you just going to drop me off?” stabs a certain spot in your mama or daddy heart.
Independence is a gift, but it comes with a price. And just as we’ve celebrated the independence of our nation, we’re also devoting this month to celebrating the independence we’re working to create in our families. Not just for the growing children who will one day have families of their own, but also for the mothers and fathers who are working hard to raise them. Whether the independence you are working for is financial independence for your family, encouraging your toddler to put on his own shoes, or simply the ability to go elsewhere for a few hours without someone needing something from you, we’re here for you with tips, advice from parents who have been there and done that, and stories to help you know as you travel this parenting journey that you are not alone. We may each be independent, but we’re all in this together.
Which moment of independence has been the hardest for you thus far?