The other day at the playground I watched from a bench as Ada climbed and played and offered to share her snacks with the other kids. This glimpse at her fundamental nature is such a gift to see: she is compassionate and beautiful. I love her so enormously for the person she is. I felt so proud that she does these kind things with no prompting on my part. I felt proud of her independence. Then it hit me like a sucker punch:
Strange and unexpected, but at that moment motherhood was a little bit painful. Intellectually, I know that I can't protect her forever. Things happen to all of us that are central to learning and growing as a human being: the first heartbreak, the first disappointment, dealing with failure...these are real things in her future. One day she will be sad and I won't be able to help. Hugging and rocking and smoothing her hair won't always make it all better. Probably someday I'll annoy her and she'll look to someone else to comfort her. Yes, I knew it all in my mind but my heart hadn't received that message yet. Ouch.
My feelings tell me to clutch her tightly to me to protect her - even when there is nothing to protect her from - but my instincts and experience tell me that this is a fatal move. Having not seen many models of letting go gracefully, I'm not entirely sure how exactly I want this to go. What I do know is that regardless of how I feel I know exactly how I'd like to make her feel about our mother/daughter relationship as it blossoms toward adulthood. I hope that even when she is grown up that I can still make her feel safe. I hope that she will feel comfortable confiding in me - that I won't share her secrets or judge her or reflexively dismiss her opinion or impose my intense worry on her. I hope she can still see me as a resource and the strength in her foundation.
Hooking up Shell. Please take a moment to let me know your thoughts on this. I'm just taking it all in as I carve my path.