Monday, August 30, 2010

But her backpack is twice as big as she is!

This was my thought this morning as I watched Abi walk from my van toward her building at school. Everyone was getting there, happy to see each other from the weekend apart. Kids shuffling in, sleepy eyed and wild-haired, tucking in their shirts and eating their leftover mini-van breakfasts. In the sea of children, my little girl looked like a Tic-Tac with legs, her backpack covering her entire torso and past her bottom, lunch box in one hand, warm-vanilla milk in the other. She looked longingly at me half way down the sidewalk, and then she saw Reagan (the love of her life...her words, not mine), and she never turned back around to me again.

On the way to work, I called Rod and sniffled at how grown up she is and how she needs us less and less in so many ways. Rod told me that the other day, when he was there to pick her up from school, he heard two little girls (who appeared to be in third-ish grade) say something along the lines of "That don't matter... She's ugly" about some girl in their class. Rod said, "I can't even stand to THINK that one day someone will talk about Abi that way."

Fact is, they will.

My feathers ruffle, my hair stands on end, my talons come out, and I start lookin' for a Mama to chew out.

Then I come back to real life.

I can't be there every day, shielding her heart from the hurtful words and judging stares of snotty girls. I can't cover her with a blanket when her heart gets broken because a boy makes a joke about her butt and she's humiliated. I wish I could. But even if I could, I shouldn't.

See, we live in a bailout driven society. Settle down... this isn't about politics. We bail our kids out of hard work, out of taking responsibility, out of chores, out of saving money, and out of pain. Know the kids whose parents call and gather support for them, or sell their box of candy bars at their workplace so their kids don't have to do it because they're "shy"? Yeeeeeah. My parents didn't play like that. But New School parents have chosen to make life as utterly easy as they can for their kids. We rush to their aid with every bump and bruise, and we basically wrap them in bubble wrap to keep them from hurting themselves along the way, both physically and emotionally, hovering over their every move. Fact is, pain is a part of humanity. And as much as I grieve when THOSE tears fall, and as much as I'd like to protect her from their sources, I cannot do so. If I did, I would be handicapping her abilities to deal with real life when I can't be there to save her.


Years ago, I read about Beth Moore when her daughter moved off to college. As any mom would, Beth struggled with worry of how her little one would take care of herself 24/7 for the first time in her life. When she got home from dropping off her little bird at her new dorm room, Beth was cleaning her daughter's empty bedroom. As she cleaned out from under the bed, she found a pile of tissues underneath the head of the bed, wrinkled and smeared with mascara. It was very clear that Beth's precious girl had cried herself to sleep more than one night, alone in her bed, while Beth was unaware. Beth said she cried out, "God, I was right down the hall and I didn't know she was in silent pain!" As her heart was breaking, the Lord spoke softly to her, "If you didn't know she was hurting while she was down the hall, how can you possibly comfort her when she's across the country? I took care of her then, and I've got this too."

We can't do it all, moms and dads. We can't be the shield all the time... can't guard their hearts from all they'll see. Oh, don't get me wrong. We can do alot. But there comes a time when we step back and see if we are actually equipping them for success or setting them up for failure by micro-managing their pain. Ouch.

I'm telling you. That backpack is twice as big as she is. How can she carry it all?

She'll grow. And I'll know when to step in.

And when to back off. ;-)


  1. Thanks Jill, another one out of the ballpark.

  2. Linda, thank you!!! I miss you every day. For real.

  3. We need a "like" thingy to push over here on your blog. "-) I heartily agree! (again) I had a conversation with a girlfriend who got married a few months after she graduated high school to the only guy she had dated (not counting junior high crushes) and was thinking she needed to protect her college aged daughter from ever getting a broken heart. I told her that getting your heart broken doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger and you learn from it. As long as her daughter remained pure (which she had been taught) and didn't do anything she'd regret physcially then her heart would heal and she'd have probably learned some very valuable lessons so stop trying to shield her from a broken heart, she wasn't doing her any favors. I'm a big believer that if we as parents give our kids enough self confidence, love and acceptance for who they are as individuals then even though unkind words will still hurt they'll know in their heart they are just unkind words and someone saying them doesn't make them true words. Loved this blog!

  4. The absolute hardest part of parenting. *sigh*