My babies may be big now, but these are the things children never outgrow.
My children are not babies anymore. They’ve outgrown a lot of things.
They’ve outgrown onesies and tiny shoes and fuzzy sleepers and cribs and baby bathtubs and high chairs and car seats.
They’ve grown into hoodies and athletic shorts and giant tennis shoes and beds they don’t want to get out of and showers and, in the case of my oldest, the driver’s seat in the car.
But there are things they’ll never outgrow.
They’ll never outgrow my love for them.
They’ll never outgrow my encouragement of them.
They’ll never outgrow my concern over them.
They’ll never outgrow my worry about them.
They’ll never outgrow my support for them.
They’ll never outgrow my delight in them.
They’ll never outgrow my hopes for them.
This growing up thing is hard…for the kids who are doing the growing and for the parents who are watching it happen right in front of us. We see the ways our bigger kids don’t need us anymore, but at the same time we’re grateful for the ways they still do need us.
The push-and-pull of parenting
Where to let go. Where to hold on. This is the push-and-pull of parenting, at every stage.
We have these children to hold them, but we raise them to release them.
We grasp their hands while they learn to walk, then let them go so they can take their first solo steps.
We teach them how to be kind and share and get along with others, then let them go so they can put those lessons into practice.
We celebrate and treasure who they are, then let them go so they can find out who they will become.
These letting-go’s hurt, because we like what we have and what we know. But in every letting go, we also take hold of something new: joy, pride, hope, anticipation, celebration, accomplishment, growth, achievement.
We let go of our toddlers and take hold of the the thrill of seeing them walk on their own.
We let go of our students and take hold of the pride of watching them learn things others can teach them.
We let go of our teenagers and take hold of the joy of having them choose us as friends.
All of this is underpinned and overlaid and hemmed in by a love that gets us every time. But it also gets us through every time.
It’s a love we never have to let go of.
As moms, when our children are very young, we are needed all the time. We might dream sometimes of a day when we’ll be needed less…and then, almost at the same moment, we start to dread that day.
In some ways, I have come to that day. My children don’t need me in the same ways they did when they were infants and toddlers and preschoolers. But they do still need me.
These are the things children never outgrow
They still need to be hugged and kissed.
They still need to be fed and nurtured and guided.
They still need to be comforted and consoled.
They still need to be held.
They still need to be given things only I can give them.
They don’t need me to change their diapers anymore. But sometimes they need me to help them change their minds when they’re thinking in untrue or unhealthy ways.
They don’t need me to feed them strained peas any longer. But they do need me to feed their minds and hearts with love and encouragement.
They don’t need me to hold their hands when they cross the street. But they still need me to hold their hearts and protect them the best I can.
They don’t need me to help them reach the faucet handles on the bathroom sink these days. But they still need me to help them reach for their dreams and goals.
And your children will still need you, too, sweet mama. Whatever their ages—whether they are two weeks or two months or two years or two decades old—your babies will still need you. Because this need is not based on how big they are or what age they are; this need is based on love and relationship. And these are not things we grow out of; they are things that grow.
I can’t hold my big kids on my lap very easily anymore. Their gangling arms and long legs make it hard for them to fit comfortably.
But I’ll always hold my children in my heart.
They’ll always fit there perfectly.
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