Saturday, July 11, 2009

Come Back Please...

Come back please.
Come back now.
I don’t want to…I want to go with them.
I know but…
Please let me go with them…

He was desperate…he turned his back to me and continued to make his way down the middle of the creek to play with the “big kids”. He teetered and tottered over the slick rocks…he slipped a few times but stood up…I winced…he looked back at me and smiled…I tried again…

Luke! Luke! Come back…
Mommy, stop calling me…I want to go…

I turned around and let him go. With the baby in my arms I slowly walked back to the group…everyone was talking and laughing only few yards away from the creek where the kids played. They were clueless as to what just happened to me. For a moment, everything around me got quiet and I could hear Luke’s isolated laugh…the thrill of going alone and enjoying the acceptance of the older children.

I felt a touch bewildered. I looked at my friend and said, “I just had a ‘moment’. Luke just turned 5 in his heart…I can feel it. I don’t think I am ready for this…” I went through our moments in my head with Luke as a toddler and since about the age of 2…he’s been scared of pretty much anything that was new to him…the ocean, the train ride, loud noises, new class rooms…

I was not used to this fearlessness…

For a moment, I thought…I want him to be afraid. I don’t want him to do this…God…this is entirely too scary for me. What if something happens to him…what if he breaks his head open…what if, what if, what if…

In a matter of days we went from the mountains to the beach…

As I watched my sister teach Luke how to body surf…I didn’t think much of it. He loves the beach…but doesn’t really love the water. Until now. The body surfing turned into boogie boarding…which led to this conversation:

You need to come back...closer to our area.
No mommy. I want to stay here.
I get that, but you need to come closer so we can see you.
Mommy! [picture total five year old exasperation] …the waves are bigger over here.
Luke…you need to come with me over here. The tide is very strong.
What’s a tide?
It’s what could potentially take you out to sea if you don’t come with me.
[Blink, Blink]
I just want to go where the big waves are.

I just stared at him…who are you? Are you five or twelve? Don’t do this to me…God! Help me….I’m scared for him. Please just come play in the sand, eat seashells with Jonah…whatever, but not this dangerous stuff because…what if…

I led him back to our towels, told him the ground rules and let him go…
I watched him like a hawk from a distance.
He got tossed about a little…
When he swallowed some salt water I gave him juice.
I doused him with sunscreen so he would not get burned.
I gave him a snack when he was hungry.
I took him home when he was tired.

I did what I am supposed to do…but it was hard. I do not want to be a “helicopter mom”…I want my kids to experience life in a huge way without directing their every move and picking them up every time they fall.

I thought this would be easier because it’s the type of parent I want to be…I never thought it would be this difficult to experience the small moments of detachment. Even though it’s slow…and I have a lot of years left with him…it’s painful. I thought about the future…what if he wants to join the military? Backpack across Europe alone? Climb Mount Everest?

Will I stand there and cry…probably. Will I tell him not to go? No. I realized that these moments are about preparing him to lead an interesting, fulfilling life without fear. But they are also about slowly preparing me to let go of the fear of letting go to one of the things that has brought me more joy then I would have ever imagined…

So…happy birthday Luke! I pray that your life is full of unending joy and great adventures…you are clearly off to a good start! Enjoy!

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7


  1. Oh my goodness...this made me cry. I feel the same way about my little toddler. I don't want to hold her back from experiences, but I'm so scared to let go of her hand sometimes!

  2. what beautiful children you have! It is hard to let go! Kids are such a scary joy in our hearts.

  3. Beautiful post and all of it so very true.

  4. Your post made me cry. Letting go, letting them live the lives God created for them, it is so very hard.