How to Encourage (and Enjoy) Your Child’s Independence

(I am taking a break from our 26 Steps to Simplicity series to bring you this post.  It still falls within the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, though: E is for Encourage.)storytime

I’m sitting here at the library, attempting to create an editorial calendar for my blog, while my four-year old daughter enjoys her weekly Storytime session.  Unlike the other moms, I am not participating with my daughter, marching around the room, waving my duck sign, or listening intently to the stories about spring.

No, I am situated on the other side of the glass, nestled in a comfortable chair by the dormant fireplace.  Instead of joining the other moms, dads, and grandparents, I am instead enjoying the view of my little girl, who sits spellbound before Mrs. K, the librarian, as she reads a colorful book and arranges figures on the flannel board.

It took having five children to realize I don’t need to micromanage every moment of my daughter’s existence.  I can allow her to experience life independent of me in these small ways, which will only grow more and more frequent and substantial as the years pass.

My heart wells up with love for my daughter as I watch her from a distance.  Close up, I admit I get distracted, comparing her to the other children and concerning myself with her behavior.  Is she sitting as nicely as the other children?  Is she the only one who came with un-brushed hair and too-short sleeves for her ever-lengthening arms?  Is she participating?  Getting her turn?

From here, though, all I see is Skyler. I see her attentive, upturned face, her eagerness to help and contribute, her smile of wonder at each newly turned page.  I see her watching the other girls, and my heart pangs.  Is she falling prey to comparison too, already?  As she follows Mrs. K around the room to the beat of the song about raindrops, she spots me through the glass partition, and her bright smile tells me all I need to know.  I need not have worried.

skyler with maracas

There is a special kind of motherly admiration which I only experience when I observe my children from afar: still within reach, but out of my direct influence.  Without the filter of correction or exasperation, I have a clear view of their particular, innate beauty . . . and of their smallness.  (Don’t children seem as large as life itself when we are in direct contact with them?) I love these moments most of all, I think, because they remind me of my purpose as a mom and the high call I have to love and raise them well.

There’s another moment I love equally as well.  When the children head to the tables to begin their craft for the day (today it is gluing tissue paper pieces onto a pre-printed rainbow sheet), it is my custom to poke in and make sure Skyler knows how to do the project.  She is already making each bow a multi-colored masterpiece, even though she is well aware of the distinctive hues of the rainbow.  I praise her creativity and remind her I will be sitting just outside, when she says, “Why don’t you sit here, by me?”

This is an invitation I wouldn’t pass up for the world.  “Okay, I will.  Should I make a rainbow too?” I ask, sliding into the chair beside her.

She nods, and we create rainbows- together.

6 thoughts on “How to Encourage (and Enjoy) Your Child’s Independence

  1. What a sweet and beautiful piece. I love your approach to allowing her to develop independently. That invitation must be the sweetest feeling ever! I’ll be trying to catch up on your A to Z posts this weekend.

    1. Thanks, Roslynn; it was! I admit, I miss a lot of those opportunities because I am preoccupied with other things, and I always regret it later. Thanks for reading:)

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