I barely remember a time when Claire didn’t walk. It’s been a mere two months, but the transformation could not be more enduring. Sure, children start out with the struggle of the learning curve, but once they reach a milestone, they never look back.
While Claire was learning to walk, I was learning about life. It was my first lesson in letting go. I wanted to help. I could hold her hand and cheer her on, but I couldn’t stop her from falling. I couldn’t show her how to find her equilibrium. I couldn’t take a step for her.
She had to discover how to stand on her own two feet and move through the world. Literally and metaphorically, isn’t this experience what we want most for our children? Why is it so hard to do?
Claire took it all in stride. She would find a tentative center and lurch forward. Her feet didn’t yet know how to keep up with her head and upper half of her body. She would stumble back down to the floor. Over and over again.
I was impatient.
Yet, falling was time well spent for Claire. She developed elegant ways to catch herself on the way down, crashing on her belly and looking up at me with a giggle. “How smart!” I thought. “She needs to know how to fall right, before she can walk.”
I started to feel in awe of her grace. I started to feel joy being in her presence and watching. I began to wonder about my own need to be right and to have things just so.
When do we begin to see our efforts as failure when what we really need is more practice? When do we replace the ability to make fools of ourselves with feelings of shame and embarrassment? When do we stop having fun in the moment and worry only about the end result?
Claire has no self-doubt. She shows complete faith in the process. She isn’t concerned about when the goal will be achieved.
The best self-help gurus preach about this stuff all the time. They’ve got nothing on my daughter Claire.