Mama Musings: Letting go, growing up, and Moana (we’re obsessed over here)

I sent my baby off to school today. Ok, not exactly. It’s a mother’s day out program, once a week, for five hours. But still, it feels like a bit of a turning point. Growing up is such a gradual process, sometimes I hardly even notice it’s happening. Then we pass a signpost like “First Day of Preschool” and we’re forced to see how much bigger our children have gotten. It seems to me that second-borns mature even faster, or at least mine does. Of course her sister is to blame. She sees sissy sitting on a chair at the table, putting on her shoes and socks, or scampering around the furniture, so naturally Little Bit is convinced that she can do those things too. She had multiple meltdowns yesterday because she couldn’t figure out how to put her pants on herself, and when I offered to help she just got madder. Oy.
It’s a good thing of course, this asserting of independence. It’s natural and right that she should want to accomplish things for herself. Her older sister takes a little more prodding. She is content to let mama do things for her. Why should she learn to open her applesauce pouch when it’s so much easier just to hand it over to mom? I smile to myself and wonder if one day soon the shoe will be on the other foot, and big sister will try something new because her little sis has already done it. It’s bound to happen sooner or later.
But even as I applaud their accomplishments and encourage them to stretch their abilities, I feel little pricks of sorrow. Is this the last time, I wonder, the last time I’ll help Charlotte fasten her shoes? We finally packed the rest of the bottles away, ready to pass them on to a new generation of babies, and my heart broke a little knowing that the bottle-holding phase of my life is over. Not that I’ll miss the endless washing, drying, and assembling of bottles. And yet, maybe I do.
Yes, this whole growing up thing is hard on a mama’s heart. Older moms, the ones with grown kids, often stop me in the grocery store and remind me of how fast life whooshes by. “Blink and you’ll be taking them off to college” they’ll say. I believe them. I think of the quote by Elizabeth Stone, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Of course before you become a mother you have no idea how true those words are. Maybe it’s for the best.
Still our instinct is to keep them close, keep them safe, keep them from harm. That’s our job of course, certainly in the beginning. But as they grow that mission changes. Slowly we come to understand that we can’t protect them from fear, from hurt, even from evil. Nor should we. I cringe even writing those words, but it’s a mistake that I don’t want to make. I want to be the soft place my girls land, but I can’t tie them to my apron strings or bind them to the earth. I must let them test their wings and fly, even though it inevitably will involve falling. Ultimately my job is to point them to their Creator, to show them that God alone is their Protector, their Healer, their Savior. I want my girls to grow up with a strong, sure hope in the One Being that loves them more than I do. His plans for them my not be safe, but they are good because His is good. I don’t want them to live a safe life because of fear. I want them to live an adventure with courage and a bold faith that God has called them to something higher.
But what about me? Am I living an adventure? Sure motherhood is absolutely an adventure (sometimes terrifyingly so) but is there something more I should be modeling for my girls? I’m reading a book right now called Graced Based Parenting, and the author emphasizes the importance of modeling a courageous faith and a strong hope, because if our children don’t see it practiced in our lives it will be hard to apply it to their own. I get that, in a theoretical sense, but what does that look like for me, practically, as a mom of littles who is still very much in the trenches with limited free time? What’s my next adventure?
Ok, so maybe I’ve been listening to the Moana soundtrack too much. It’s on a constant loop in our house, and in the car. But the lessons in that movie just hit me right where I’m at. I want my girls to listen to God’s call, even if that leads them away from me. I can’t keep them safe on the island if their mission is elsewhere. But will I be like Moana’s mama, who sent her off with a hug and a smile through her tears? I hope so. Lord, give me strength.
Well, that was a rather deep dive into where my heart is at in this moment. Thanks for going there with me. What milestones have your kids reached that make you jump for joy and die a little inside at the same time? Or is that just me?


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