I just tucked my ten y/o daughter into bed. She was begging me from down the hall to tell her a bedtime story. A few minutes later she emerged, again pleading for a story. I walked my little girl back to bed, like so many nights before. As I lifted her pink and green quilt back, she swung her ladies size 8 foot into bed, and the image jarred me for a second. My oldest girl is a toddler again.
She would be horrified that I just said that. But she is between stages right now, just like the toddler walking and falling its way from infancy to childhood. Toddlers are playful, determined, fun, independent one minute, dependent the next. They also get lots of bumps and bruises.
I remember when my oldest was a baby and I asked my mother-in-law what her favorite stage of children was. She thought a moment and said, “I like them all. Every stage is different but wonderful.” I know what she means now. I do not feel as sad as I thought I would as my “baby” gets older. I delight in our conversations, the way we can laugh together now, and even in the way I see her establishing herself apart from us. I also hurt for her, as the certain inevitabilities of growing up scratch her and rough her up.
I have found myself praying lately for more understanding and wisdom than I ever have before. I don’t want to stand in the way of who God wants her to be. I don’t want to rush her childhood, but I don’t want to hold her back either. It’s tempting to want to shape her into a mini-me. It’s equally tempting to berate her when she is acting like me.
As I write this, I am beginning to see that we are both toddlers of sorts…navigating our way between one comforting stage and an unknown, exciting one just ahead. Pray for us – we are having fun, but the trip is a little rough.