My little girl is almost 2 now and I’m thinking she might turn out to be the most independent person on the face of the earth.
Some early signs…
1. When we eat lunch with her grandparents, she grabs their hands afterwards as we are leaving and starts shouting “Bye! Bye! Bye” to us while waving madly and jumping up and down.
2. When we pick her up at the church nursery, she waves hello and smiles and then gets in line for the slide again.
3. As soon as we open the door to Chick fil A, she runs away from us and to the playground as quickly as possible.
4. Heaven forbid she hold both of our hands while walking across parking lots…one is MORE than sufficient and really she’d rather just be on her own. In fact, I’m seriously considering getting one of those kid leash backpack things I used to knock, because I really think that would make life a lot easier.
Her independence truly TRULY makes me happy. Isn’t this one of the main goals of parenting? Don’t all of us aim to foster an environment for our children that will prepare them for adulthood independent of mom and dad? Yes, I know, someday I’ll be a crying mom as I watch her drive her first car, or go on her first date, or move into a dorm. But at the end of the day, we WANT her to be a mature and self-sufficient adult. We don’t want her to live with us forever (well maybe Matt does) or even be our best friend.
That being said…there has been one little hitch to my pride in her independence. About 3 weeks ago, she stopped wanting to sit in my lap during our daily reading ritual before nap and bedtime. Seeing as she has never really snuggled and it’s our only cuddle time, this broke my heart a little. It didn’t help when I found out that if other family members put her down, she still sits in their laps. *Ouch! Yet, I have not forced her. Every day/night I put her in my lap for a story and when she resists, I let her sit next to me in the infant to toddler rocker she just now rediscovered (Matt suggested that I hide it). Sometimes she doesn’t even want me to read to her, but she’d rather read to me. IN-DE-PEN-DENT!!!!
And then a few days ago, during some pre-reading, pre-bedtime, free play I was sitting in her bean bag chair as she pushed her babies around in their stroller and played with her animals. Then, all of a sudden, she came and sat on my lap and we laughed and laughed about who knows what and she hugged me over and over again and we read books for almost 30 minutes. And it was wonderful.
And this whole scenario has made me think about my own relationship with God, as many aspects of parenting will.
The God I believe in and worship is kind and patient with me, even when I am independent and attempting to live my life apart from him. He does not stray, nor does he waver in his love or even his like for me. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is always present.
The God I believe in and worship does not FORCE me into a relationship with him. Nor does he force me to love him. He offers his love freely and allows me to live daily with or without him (of course, sometimes I incur negative consequences as a result of my stubbornness).
There have been so many times that I don’t want to spend time with him or obey him, but he is gentle and compassionate upon my return and welcomes me with open arms as the prodigal son was welcomed with open arms by his father.
As I seek to emulate my Heavenly Father, I hope to be a mother who is patient and kind with my children, and a mother who does not force my children to love me or worship me (because who wants coerced love?). This is hard and I have not mastered it and will likely be always trying to master it, but I can try. As I let her sit in her big girl chair, I must always let her know that I love her no matter what and if she wants to be with me, I’m there. And when my feelings are hurt someday that she’d rather be with her friends on a Friday night, I hope to remember those mornings when I chose sleep over prayer or coffee over confession or anger over grace. And when she comes home, I hope I’m there-waiting, present, and attentive to her because when I come home that is how God waits for me.