Marcia Miller's Reflections & Resources

You’ve Got Lots of Time

There’s no need to rush. The days might go by quickly, but the months and years meander slowly on their way.

People are often in a hurry to make kids grow up. We want them to be independent at a young age, sleep on their own, wean early, tie their shoes by themselves, read their own books, get a job, move out, and start the process over with the next generation. All of these things are fine, but they’ll happen whether we rush them along or not.

People in many other cultures know that children want to grow up, and they grow up soon enough. They trust that children’s early dependence won’t keep them from wanting to be independent eventually.

From the nurturing mothers in La Leche League, I learned that children do eventually sleep through the night, they wean in their own time, and if their attachment needs are met, they become quite confident and independent. These mothers reminded me, “If you meet the need, the need will go away.”

I loved Nancy Wallace‘s description about how she helped Ishmael with tying his shoes and zipping up his coat long after others were wondering why he couldn’t just do it by himself. She knew he would do it eventually, and it wouldn’t hurt if she helped him just a little more.

We get impatient because when our kids are a certain age or in a certain phase of their lives, we can’t imagine them moving onward and upward. We think that we’ll always have to help them with their coats, read books to them, help them spell certain words, or clean up after them. But we won’t always. We need to remind ourselves that their whole lives are about growing, maturing, and becoming their own strong, independent selves.

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3 Comments for “You’ve Got Lots of Time”

  • Shannon says:

    Lovely! My problem is more that he’s growing up too fast! Not for him, but for me. The months and years seem to be racing by and I already look at old pictures (he’s 6.5) and miss the days when he needed me more. He’s so proud of his accomplishments and I am too. And I also mourn a little at each one, knowing that he’s constantly moving closer to the day when he will say a bigger goodbye.

  • Shannon says:

    I love this poem, which illustrates both the joy & the sadness of watching our kids become independent:

    To a Daughter Leaving Home, by Linda Pastan

    When I taught you
    at eight to ride
    a bicycle, loping along
    beside you
    as you wobbled away
    on two round wheels,
    my own mouth rounding
    in surprise when you pulled
    ahead down the curved
    path of the park,
    I kept waiting
    for the thud
    of your crash as I
    sprinted to catch up,
    while you grew
    smaller, more breakable
    with distance,
    pumping, pumping
    for your life, screaming
    with laughter,
    the hair flapping
    behind you like a
    handkerchief waving

    from The Imperfect Paradise, 1988
    W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, NY

  • Marcia Miller says:

    Beautiful poem, Shannon. I can relate to the feelings of time flying by too fast, also. Sometimes it’s hard to adjust to the changes. I can remember several times when I wasn’t ready for feeling less needed than before. But then every now and then I’m needed again or in a different way, and that’s comforting. It seems like each new milestone helps me get ready for the next.

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