Letting Your Heart Go Walking Around

“Here. Let me hand you my flailing child and then walk calmly away while I listen to him crying out for me.”

Easy enough, right?



Last week was my son’s second swimming lesson. The first time, he spent a few minutes clinging to my arm before he worked up the courage to step in. This time, even though he remembered how much fun he had had last week, he was even more apprehensive when it came time to get in. The teacher stoically told me to pick him up and hand him to her, in the water. So I did—flailing limbs and all.

I’m still feeling a bit conflicted about that, but more than anything, I keep thinking about how this is only the beginning. During his life, I will watch him tackle one scary thing after another. If anything, I’m lucky that right now the scariest thing he and I have to face is a small, 90-degree indoor pool with a dozen happy children in it.

As I sat on a nearby bench, handing my younger son snack after snack to keep him from pulling off his shorts and getting in the pool (seriously, he was trying), I imagined all the hard things I may see my children face. Standing up to a bully? Choosing not to be a bully? Getting cut from a team? Navigating the internet wisely? Taking the SATs??

I also thought of my role. Today I walked calmly (at least on the outside) to the other side of the pool, sat down, and gave him an encouraging thumbs-up the few times we made eye contact. Even though he desperately wanted me to step in and take away his fear, I knew I couldn’t. Slowly, he’s going to have to learn to trust himself and trust others. My heart beats fast at that thought—which reminds me that I’m going to have to learn to trust him, and trust others, too.

With each new stage my oldest child and I enter, I better understand Elizabeth Stone’s expression that parenthood is deciding to let your heart go walking around outside of your body.

But when my boy comes up to me dripping wet after his half-hour lesson and says, “See? I found some brave!”—I think maybe it’s not so bad to have this little guy carrying part of my heart.

I hope you feel it too.


Linked up with The Better Mom and Grace at Home

  • Rachel
    July 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Very well said. I love that quote about having your hear walking around outside of your body. Its so true.

  • Alison
    July 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    “I found some brave” is SO CUTE! It is hard. It’s hard to hold back and not help when they need to face something alone.

  • Alison
    July 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    But it is worth it!

  • Mary B
    July 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I let Talia and her friend walk to Starbucks last week. 13 years old and crossing her first busy street alone… I made her take my mace. And call me when she got there. And I went and picked her up. I have a hard time trusting the world around us! And I have a hard time thinking about that sweet piece of my heart ever being stepped on. I still feel like it’s just the beginning for her. Why do kids have to grow up?! 🙂 Thx for sharing!

    • Erica {let why lead}
      July 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      Love that, Mar! I am probably going to be super overprotective! But I think your measures (having her call you and then picking her up) were smart. You gotta build up to it, after all!

  • Sarah
    July 23, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    This is something I face everyday! We live in such a different world than when we were growing up – there is so much more to fear! But my mother in law is constantly reminding me to not let the worry interfere with living life! It’s something I try to teach my kids on a daily basis, and reminding myself again and again doesn’t hurt me either 🙂

  • Connie
    July 24, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I am dealing with this more than ever with Kade going to kindergarten in five weeks. It is the first time, since he was little and at a babysitter while I was doing student teaching, that I will not be standing right by him. I never worried about him when he went to preschool, but for some reason I am being really worried about him going to kindergarten. I feel I am saying more prayers and hoping that I have taught him the basics of what he needs to know at this point in his life. However, I know this is a step in his life of becoming the young man our Heavenly Father wants him to be. I guess sometimes we have to let go and know that Heavenly Father knows what is best for them and we are just here to support them through their ups and downs. Thanks for your post!!! You are doing an incredible job with this blog 🙂 Your posts on motherhood and marriage help me to know that I am not the only one going through certain things.

  • Cheri
    July 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Wow!!! “Letting your heart go walking around” is so well said. Thanks for finding that quote and developing your experience at swim lessons! You’re a super Mom!!! So well thought out and expressed! Thank you!

  • Kendall
    July 26, 2012 at 3:58 am

    So cute. I teared up at Trenton’s quote, “I found some brave.” Being a mom is so terrifying, but we’re lucky these kids are so great.

  • Becky K
    July 26, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Oh, so true. I can relate to this very well. Imagine me handing my daughter over to kindergarten in four weeks and six days (yes, she is counting). Thanks for the encouraging conclusion, Erica!

  • Richella @ Imparting Grace
    August 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Oh, yes!! And it doesn’t change, not even when your oldest is 21. 🙂

    Thanks for this beautiful post!

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