Watching your kids grow up is harder than I thought it would be. When they are babies, it’s almost as if you expect them to stay that way forever. It’s easy to be fooled into thinking that you will be coddling and caring them until you get a hip replacement. Those small days can feel so long.
But then one day they get ideas of independence – they want to get themselves dressed, they want to pour their own milk, they want to climb that really tall thing, they disappear at the grocery store, they get on the bus alone to go to school.
It’s almost a shock in those moments that they won’t stay small forever, like when your look at your kitten and it’s suddenly a cat. When your baby is suddenly in kindergarten. Or grade 12.
What we like to get wrong as parents in this moment of history is that our kids need to be treated small longer than they actually are small. We like to do more for them than they need because they are our babies. We like to clear all obstacles in front of them that could potentially harm them or their self-esteem.
But we can only hold so tightly onto our kids. We can only direct their path so much, protect them so much, treat them as small so much. After a point it actually becomes unhealthy. It hinders them from reaching their potential.
Part of parenting is letting go. And before that, letting them build confidence and resilience within your proximity so they can step out and succeed wildly.
That’s just another thing that Leonardo da Vinci got right when he crafted the painting, Madonna of the Yarnwinder, pictured above.
Each child has their own abilities, talents, and passions programmed into them. Each has their own path in life to live. Each has their individual sweet spot where their specific skill-set and personality meets a need in the world to make it a better place. Each child has their own purpose.
We are not to live vicariously through our children, or to coddle them into life-long dependence on us.
We are to recognize that ultimately, they are not ours to keep. They will live outside the walls of our house as decision-making adults about 70 years longer than they will live inside.
The best thing we can do for our kids in the meantime is to ensure that our ceilings as parents, as individuals, make a perfectly steady floor for them to launch their life from. That their confidence matches their capability.
We are to hold our children lightly because they have a specific purpose in life.
Leonardo da Vinci painted this notion absolutely impeccably. Mary is holding onto Jesus. He needs the physical nurturing to grow him strong. He’s still small. But at the same time, he’s already looking away to his own purpose.
He will not take over his father’s carpentry business. He will not become a fisherman.
He has his own set of desires and skills that will change the world, and Mary knows it. She knows there will be a point that she has to let go. And she knows that the best she can do for her child is to allow him to fulfill his purpose.
Leonardo da Vinci shows us visually what our role as parents ultimately is. The grower of an adult with their own set purpose in life. Nurturing with our left hand while simultaneously letting go with the right.
So when your child spills the milk, be still. When your child is interested in something you aren’t, hold inside your discouraging words. When your child gets injured, comfort calmly. When your child gets on the bus and waves goodbye, celebrate.
Celebrate that your fears aren’t holding them back. Celebrate that their new chance to fail will grow them stronger. Celebrate that they are already looking ahead to their purpose.
Celebrate that you have the heavenly privilege of holding them close for this short time.
And then celebrate wildly from the sidelines when they succeed outside of the comforting reach of your arms. You are even allowed to be a little embarrassing.
Subscribe to join the community!
Picture taken from this book by Walter Isaacson: