I am a mother to a 2-year-old girl. A sweet, smart, and funny 2-year-old girl who wants to do everything "Just like Mama does!" and it melts my heart. It also gives me a slight pang of anxiety. To this girl I am the sun, the moon and the stars.
I know that I can never live up to the image of perfection that she has of me right now, so I will enjoy it while it lasts. Truthfully, I don't want her to be just like me. I want her to be better than me. I want her to be HER.
As I watch her play and learn, I think about how right now, at 2 years old, she actually is perfect. She loves fully and unconditionally, she has no anxiety over inadequacies and she has complete faith in those around her. And then I snapped a picture of her "getting ready" in her bathroom and my mind flashed 15 years into the future.
She may be 2 now, but she will be a teenager before I know it. What will she be like?
I think back to my teen years and I smile and cringe. I focus on the insecurities I had back then and I wonder if I can somehow help my baby girl escape those same feelings. I want my girl to be confident, strong and brave. I want her to be studious, sweet and empathetic. I want her to work hard for things she wants, and I want her to know the feeling of success when she achieves her goals. So, how do I help her along?
While pondering this question, I began to think of lessons that I have learned. Since I have made *ahem* a few mistakes in my day, there are many lessons to consider. And then it hit me.
Let her fail.
My girl desperately wants to dress herself. She does not quite have the ability to get her socks and pants on without help. But, she has mastered her shoes. She's figured out that she can place the shoe by the wall and use her arm to stabilize herself while placing her foot in the shoe. It takes time... and patience... but the beam of joy once the shoe is on is worth the two minutes spent working at it. She learned this method on her own, because I allowed her to try and fail.
Knowing that I'm preparing both of us for the future, I remind myself to breath and smile while I let her do her thing. I have found that after a minute or two of trying on her own, when she realizes that physical dexterity is not on her side, she asks me for help. Then, I get to nudge her along, teach her little skills that she can work on.
As she grows, the stakes will be higher. It will be harder for me to let her go. I'll remind myself of the shoe moments and I will give her the gift of failure.