This past Sunday, K3 was on the tail end of feeling under the weather. " Don't let me fall mommy," she whispers in my ear as I'm holding her in my arms while we are kneeling and standing during church. " I won't," I promise I say as my arms grew tired and I squeeze her a little tighter encouraging a little smile. " I'll never let you fall."
Her sleepy eyes and half crocked smile make tired arms worth every minute that passes. As Mass continues on and we continue to kneel and stand, I don't let her fall, keeping my promise.
I think about it on the way home, my promise, I'll never let you fall.
Even though I meant it, it's not entirely the whole truth. It's not a promise I can keep, not even a promise I should make. As much as I fight it the days are coming ( practically here with her big sister's and only a little ways away with her) when I'm going to have to break that promise. Let them try, all by themselves, let them take a risk and let them take a fall.
One day they will procrastinate and forget to get a homework assignment finished, and I'll have to let them face the consequences of getting a bad grade.
One day, they will try out for something, give it their all, put themselves out there. The list will be posted and their name won't be on that list.
One day, they will give a piece of their heart to a boy, and come home with tear filled eyes and a broken heart,
One day, they will leave home for a life on their own, making their own choices- some right and some wrong.
I think about that as I slowly and quietly go into each of their rooms and check on them, Watching them dream. I want to keep them safe, safe in their beds, dreaming away, safe in our house, safe in my arms, safe from the world. I want to protect their hearts, minds, body and souls so they never get hurt. But I know I can't.
As I kiss them good night, I rethink my thinking. My role. The gifts I want to give them in our few short precious years we have left of them being little.
The gift of knowing Everyone falls.
The gift of knowing that it's okay, maybe even good, to fall.
The gift of knowing that they need to fall, because falling is apart of taking a risk,of growing, loving and living.
The gift of knowing how to take a fall; how to fall in a way where they maybe hurt but never broken.
The gift of knowing how to get back up after a fall. How to wipe away the tears, and hurt. How to stand once again after you have got the rug pulled from under you. How to stand up once more on shaky legs, take a deep breath and give it another shot.
The gift of not letting one fall or many falls define you, not wasting their falls but letting those falls make them stronger, braver, wiser and better.
Maybe the best promise I can make and should be making to my daughters is that if they falls- when they falls- I'll be right there with them. Loving them, believing them, encouraging them and dusting them off so they can try again. I'm here for them now with kisses for their boo-boo's, band-aides for their ouchies and a shoulder for their sweet tears. As they get older I'll be there with stories of my own falls, so they know they aren't the only one's who have fallen. At every stage, I'll be the one cheering the loudest when they pick themselves up and try again.
My new promise I whisper into their ear as they sleep soundly, "When you fall, you won't be alone."
What defines us is how well we rise after we fall.