The day, being what it is, has me thinking about independence. As I mentioned a few posts ago, there are all kinds of freedom wings being spread at our house. Baby Girl’s newfound joy (and speed) of crawling has added a whole new dimension to the other declarations of independence going on with her brothers. Her crawl usually involves moving with her left knee and her right foot so that she’s ready to sit back with the tiniest effort at a second’s notice to pop the latest find right into her mouth. Apparently, sitting is soooo 9-months. Her new-found independence at 10-months threatens to give Mommy a nervous breakdown, thinking of how infrequently I actually sweep and mop ALL the floors. Her independence has also injected a little wrinkle into Little Drummer Boy and Bug’s boy world of toys. It seems cars and trucks are just as interesting to Baby Girl as they are to her brothers, which can make the following realities problematic: 1) Coffee tables (even those found in barns) are just the right height for 10-month old standing; 2) Said coffee tables have heretofore been the domain of car races and tower building perpetrated by brothers; and 3) Where brothers are, Baby Girls should be. Two plus one equals three, and three can rock even the most lively of boy domains.
Yes, Little Drummer Boy and Bug are somewhat confused by their baby sister’s independent streak, half surprised that she’s suddenly popping up everywhere, and half perplexed that she doesn’t understand how to take turns. As for Hub and me, we’re just plain shocked (again) at how quickly day to day life changes. Much as we try to hold the reins and slow the gallop to a trot, time is still off to the races. While we take joy at seeing how each of them grows and gains new skills and develops new interests, we hold dearly those rare times when they are still so completely dependent on us, those times when we are their whole world–and they ours.
Independence. Its breaking free is a bittersweet moment. I remember that several months ago Little Drummer Boy went to AWANA all by himself for the first time. Hub normally helped the teachers with crowd control, but had another commitment that night. So, I dropped off LDB in his room and hoped for the best. He goes to preschool every day in the same building with a few of the same children. Still, the situation was different which makes LDB a little more sensitive. When I came back to pick him up about 10 minutes early, they were still having music time. I saw in his eyes that he was torn. It was his newfound independence confronted with the familiar security of Mommy. He was torn between doing his own thing with the songs and running to Mommy for a hug. What a jolt. My presence was actually deterring his independence, making him doubt himself. He was suddenly self-conscious about doing the motions to Father Abraham, or opting out in favor of his own daydreams. There it was, the bittersweet reality of independence and the need for letting go that’s required to achieve it. His independence and my letting go.
I once had a conversation with LDB’s infant caregiver about the daily concerns of parenthood. I was a brand new parent and she was parenting a grandchild and a son who had made some wrong turns. Through our sharing of stories and sometimes tears, I remember commenting, “When I see him, I can hardly imagine him ever disappointing me. But, I know that one day he will. One day he’ll do something I don’t approve of, and that makes me cry just thinking about it.”
That day has long passed for us with Little Drummer Boy and Bug, and Baby Girl’s is coming. But, now I know that the bittersweet independence is tempered by a love that eclipses any disappointment, any white knuckle grip, any reluctance to fly, any insistence on soaring. Perhaps the best and most poignant metaphor for heart-rending independence is the father in Jesus’ story of the prodigal son, the father who freely and without hesitation gave an inheritance to be squandered. When the poverty of rebellion and forgetfulness came to fruition, he also freely and without hesitation gave acceptance–restoration to an independence gone astray. How I need that. How my babies need it. How we all need it.