My big girl turned three last week. It’s not a milestone age, by traditional standards, but it has shown remarkable change.
She takes dance class, she asks real and meaningful questions, she takes her plate to the sink, goes to the bathroom without being asked, she walks with her head high (most of the time), and she is fiercely protective of her baby sister (as long as Little Girl isn’t playing with her toys).
I asked her if she would stop growing so that she could always be small and then we could always cuddle together whenever we wanted. Of course, she said yes; she wants to make me happy. But after an additional moment to think about it, she changed her mind. Very honestly and sincerely she said, “I can’t mama, because I’m gonna get bigger and bigger!”
With that… with her tiny hands reaching above her head to the sky demonstrating how she will grow, she smiled a big wide grin, all teeth and front gap.
I melted. I know it’s true. I know I can’t stop it. Growing is what we want them to do – deep down inside we know it’s best. We know it’s what they were made to do. In fact, it’s why they were given to us to begin with.
Big Girl didn’t come into this world so that she could stay forever small and keep me company and give me unlimited cuddles. She came into this world to bring glory to God. I was given charge over her, by His divine incomprehensible plan, so that I could simply facilitate her growth towards a relationship with her Savior. I break my own heart every day by teaching her and growing her and I will continue to do so until the day I die.
For by raising her and loving her and teaching her I am planning for my own heartbreak. I am facilitating my own tears.
I am working out my own uselessness for, one day, she will put on her own shoes; she will brush her own teeth; one day she won’t need me to wipe her chin or remind her to be polite.
One day, in fact, she may do these very things for me.
Every day I inch closer to letting go of the Big Girl who it has been my responsibility to hold on to. Every day I inch closer to waving goodbye to the Big Girl who it has been my responsibility to manage her every need.
This past week, I watched my Big Girl walk confidently, arms swinging by her side; I watched her think about her sister’s needs over her own; I watched her smile in the face of her fears; and I watched her grow up just a little bit more.
And part of me grew up too. Because in all this changing and growing and learning, she isn’t alone. She has changed me. She has helped me understand that sometimes a mess is just a mess and not a reflection of my ability to mother. I have grown because she has shown me that crying is OK and the ability to cry with confidence is a mark of maturity and not weakness.
I have learned to prefer others before myself, to let go of the things we can’t control, to dance even when you don’t feel like, and that a bowl of mac & cheese is the best medicine.
Yes, I’d say we are both growing up.
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