“I can do it myself.”
When my kids were little, I heard those five little words a lot. Sometimes they were very frustrating words because I was in a hurry and I could do it for them faster. Tie a shoe, button a shirt, zip a back pack.
Sometimes these words made me feel sad because I realized my babies were growing up and weren’t quite so dependent on me anymore.
Today they’re 13, 15, 16, 19, and 20 and I still hear those words. Most days I’m really, really glad. As parents, we’re at a season of life when we’re beginning to reap the harvest of the hard work of planting and sowing. Our kids have a strong, growing faith; they love each other and love to be together; and, they’re dependable hard workers.
But there are those days when I still get frustrated. Like when…
- They leave a mess in the kitchen.
- They leave wet clothes in the dryer for hours.
- They leave cleaning supplies or tools where they last used them.
I could go on.
This morning I was bemoaning this to my-husband-the-counselor and he reminded me that these are good things. “Successive approximations” he called them. “Snowballing forward”, he said.
“When they leave a mess in the kitchen it’s usually after they’ve planned and prepared their own meal.”
“When they leave wet clothes in the dryer it’s usually after they’ve done their own laundry.”
“When they leave cleaning supplies or tools where they last used them it’s usually after they were cleaning something or fixing something.”
“They’re doing what you’ve taught them to do,” he said.
He’s right about “successive approximations” and “snowballing forward”. They’re growing up, becoming independent, making some mistakes, and learning. It’s part of the parenting process, too. Giving them the freedom to say and feel, “I can do it myself” at every age.
These days I don’t feel so sad about the-growing-up-and-not-being-so-dependent-on-me-anymore but it is bittersweet.
As I write this I am suddenly aware that I am in this house alone. It is very, very quiet. Three out of five are at work. Two are next door at the neighbor’s house. I know all too soon they’ll all be gone and this season of life will be over.
I hear the backdoor slam upstairs.
And someone is yelling, “Mom!”
I call out, “I’m downstairs.”
She comes to the door and asks, “What’s for lunch?”
For now I’ll try to enjoy the successive approximations and feel happy that they still need me. Even if it’s just to make a sandwich.