I watched my daughter Grace on the swing set yesterday. Dinner was cooked and waiting on daddy to arrive, so I ventured to the back yard and pulled up a chair to watch my youngest girl. The other two were holed up in their rooms, probably glued to an electronic device.
“Mama!” she yelled, so excited to have my undivided attention. “Watch me!”
I sat back into one of our patio chairs and propped my feet on the tiny plastic picnic table in front of me and relaxed in the evening sun. I watched as Grace swung her legs to and fro, pumping herself higher and higher.
When did she get so good at swinging, I wondered. Just yesterday she was outgrowing the baby swing with the bar to keep her from falling out. I thought of those first few times putting her in the big girl swing and praying she didn’t fall out the back. I would stand with my hands out to catch her if she accidentally let go of the chains.
“Hold tight!” I’d tell her, barely pushing her high enough to catch wind in her hair.
I was thinking of how many times I’d stood in the yard behind the swing, pushing her when she jolted my thoughts. “Mama! Do you see me? I’m almost touching the sky! Woooooooo!”
Without warning, my eyes filled and blurred the carefree girl across the yard. When did she get so good at swinging? I wondered again.
Next year, she’ll be in kindergarten. She’ll be six on her birthday. It doesn’t seem that long ago when I stared in shock at that positive pregnancy test and walked out of the bathroom to tell Alan, “You’re not going to believe this.”
“Waaaaa-hooooooooo,” Grace called out. “Look at me now, Mama!”
“Wow! You’re great at swinging, Grace! Be careful.” I cautioned her.
“Don’t worry. I just hold on tight to these chains. Really tight. Just like you told me, Mama,” Grace said.
And my hands, in tense fists in my lap, loosened a bit. This is the way of things for moms. We place them into swings when their tiny bodies aren’t big enough to do it alone. Then we stand behind them, coaching them on what to do, close enough to catch them if they fall. In time, we are across the yard, watching from afar as they practice what we’ve taught. We relish in their accomplishments.
Because soon – my breath catches a little – soon, they will leave the yard. God help me when that day comes.
I bit my lip a little, to keep from the ugly cry. “That’s great, Grace. I’m glad you remember. Just don’t ever let go.”