Posted on | October 30, 2012 | 2 Comments
Mid-morning on Sunday, J and I went to the playground in the hopes of burning off some of the steam and energy he was smoldering through the house. We got there to a mostly-empty park and he made a bee line for a swing and asked me to push him.
Back and forth, back and forth, he swung up into the air, his curls bouncing off his forehead in the breeze, his legs swinging freely.
“Push me higher!” he would call on occasion, turning his face to the side, his profile pressed against the high backed seat. I would, of course, oblige, bracing myself against the ground and pushing back against him until he was above my head, giggling and breathless. We stayed there for twenty minutes, him climbing forward and falling back, me stationary… waiting for him on the down swing. My arms grew tired, but still I pushed, lifting him higher, pushing him farther, and waiting… always waiting… for the warm crush of him back against my arms.
As I pushed, I thought about how we do what we do… we mothers… we warrior parents who constantly push our children beyond our own limits, beyond their imaginations, beyond their wildest dreams. I thought about how I would always be there, always behind him, always ready to catch him in my arms and then to gently push him out again. Because it’s what we do. It’s how we parent. It’s the only way we know to teach our children the basic truths that they can always fly higher, they can always swing farther, and they can always, always, always rely on our arms behind them.
After twenty minutes, he was ready to climb out and play, running with abandon into the tall arms of the playset. I watched him go, watched his curls bounce with each step and I teared up a little as he disappeared into the curve of a covered slide. Because we only have such a very short time with them this way; I only have such a very short time to instill in him the knowledge that I am there… always… for him.
So I wait, at the bottom of slides, at the back of a swing, at the foot of the bed… waiting for him to learn that Mommy is always there… waiting until he believes in his heart that he can do anything in the world, be anyone in the world, and that I will be there to cheer him on. I wait for him to believe he can fly… because I believe he can fly.
And if or when he crashes, his wings bruised or broken by words or sadness or the aching weariness of life, I hope he will remember that, just as I stand here now, waiting to catch the curve of his swing or the kick of his feet, I will, stand there then, arms outstretched, ready to catch and mend and send him off again.
Because it’s what we do.
Because it’s what they deserve.
Because deep in our hearts, we know that even as it hurts to push them away, it’s the only way they will ever learn to fly.