“Come on, Nellie, come on!” I coax, as I flap my arms excitedly. She flashes me a huge gummy smile as her arms and legs fly into the air. She starts to flail.
“No, sweetie, you have to keep your arms and legs on the ground. It’s your tummy that should be in the air! Like this!” I lay flat on my stomach and dramatically lift my stomach higher until I’m on my hands and knees in a crawling position.
Nellie doesn’t know how to crawl–yet. But I do. And as her mom, I want to do everything in my power to help her learn. So I coax, and I demonstrate, and I encourage. I place countless toys just inches out of reach. And so far, Nellie has responded in the same way every time:
Nellie doesn’t understand my words. She may not be strong enough or coordinated enough to copy my movements. And yet, on any given day of the week, you could come upstairs to Nellie’s room and find me sprawled out on the floor motioning frantically for Nellie to crawl to me.
Why is this? Because I care for my daughter. I want her to learn. I want her to explore. I want her to be mobile. And I want to be a part of her process–that is, the process of her learning to crawl. All of these are good things, but at the end of the day, Nellie has to crawl on her own. She has to understand the need to keep her arms and legs on the ground…on her own. And she has to build up the strength to lift her tummy off of the ground.
My desire to show Nellie how to crawl–and ultimately the realization that I can’t really show Nellie how to crawl–has helped me to reach an important understanding.
One day, Nellie is going to face a challenge in her life. She won’t know what to do. I’ll want to hold her hand and lead her forward–to coax her and encourage her. I know I’ll try my best to help her in any way–to give her every answer that I have. But when that day comes, I won’t be able to fix all of her problems, whether I have the answers or not. It will be up to her. My precious girl.
It is on that day that I hope I remember these afternoons on the floor of her room. All of the prodding and flailing. I hope I remember that as much as I love her and want what’s best for her, there are certain areas of her life that a mother can’t control. But that doesn’t mean I have to get off of the floor. Because although right now Nellie hasn’t figured out what I’m trying to tell her, one day she will.
And one day she will crawl.