I’m Not Ready Yet

Do you remember teaching your child to ride a bike? Or maybe you can even think way back to when you learned how to ride a bike. I remember watching my husband, bent over at the waist, holding onto the tiny two-wheeler, running awkwardly behind my son. I remember—three times—a terrified five year old trying to pedal, steer, brake, keep one foot on the ground, and check to make sure Dad was still holding on all at once.

Before he thought he could, he was pedaling down the driveway all on his own. He didn’t even realize Dad had let go 20 yards behind him. Thinking he would surely fall if Dad wasn’t holding on, my son looked back to see if he was still there. Scared and worried despite his success, he yelled back:

Don’t let go! I’m not ready yet!

Suddenly, (perhaps not at all suddenly–fourteen years in the making, in fact), I am the mom of big kids. Not once have they asked my permission to grow up. Yet they continue to do so. At every step of their growing up, I beg them silently:

Don’t let go. I’m not ready yet.

I hate to break it to you my friends, but this is the hardest part of parenting. So far, anyway. I’d bet good money there are even harder parts to come. Every new stage of parenting has a new hardest part. Each stage also has a new wonderful part. Before our son was born, I could never have imagined the mind-numbingly sleepless nights, bone-deep exhaustion, and constant attention required by tiny humans. Then those terrible twos followed by the even worse threes tested my patience and resolve more than a classroom of teenagers ever did. Those were the hardest parts. Mixed right in with the best parts–the intoxicating fragrance of a baby’s head, a toddler’s unbridled giggles, the new words and then sentences–hilarious, hysterical sentences. 

Now, I am here, with exactly zero kids who are still single-digit ages. I live in constant fear of the endless ways the internet, cell phones, bullies, friends, traffic, guns, politicians, or simple poor decision making may damage their lives irrevocably at any moment. Mixed right in with my joy and awe at the wonderful, real people they are becoming. I also live with the certainty that I must send them out into that world armed only with whatever meager defenses I have managed to arm them thus far. That’s how this parenting thing works, despite my plea:

Don’t let go. I’m not ready yet.

I don’t have a clue what comes after this. I don’t know what I’m going to be when they all grow up, but I know I’ll be ready for it. So will you. Because even though I’m not quite ready yet, this parenting gig is teaching us to be as strong, as smart, as creative, as resilient, as resourceful as we need to be for whatever comes next. No matter what it is.

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