I Can’t Always Watch You
posted by: admin
When my daughter CJ was young, I took her to the grocery store with me. As usual, she climbed up to hang onto the side of the cart, and as usual, I told her to get down.
We made our way through the produce department without incident. Then I stopped the cart and turned my back on it – and her – as I looked through the specialty cheeses. Just as I picked up a ball of mozzarella, I heard a shriek and a crash. I turned to see her lying on the floor with the cart on top of her.
Another shopper was already rushing to lift the cart off her. I sat on the floor and pulled her into my lap, where she sobbed, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” as I smoothed her hair. One employee went to get us another container of blackberries to replace the one that had broken open when it fell out of the cart, and another employee knelt down beside us to see if CJ was all right.
As her sobs subsided – with a little encouragement from me: “Please settle down. Not so loud.” – I gently asked her, “Were you hanging onto the side of the cart?” She nodded. I went on, “Haven’t I told you many times not to do that?”
She nodded again, but then added, “Mommy, you weren’t watching me.”
“CJ, I can’t always watch you. Sometimes I have to trust you to do the right thing.”
By far, this has turned out to be the most difficult part of motherhood for me – letting my children learn painful lessons on their own. I can tell them what they should and shouldn’t do, but at some point I have to let them go and trust them to do as I’ve told them. And I have to hope that they won’t get hurt too badly – physically or emotionally – if they insist on learning those painful lessons first hand.
I know there will be many more tears to wipe away, but I’m betting I’ll never have to remind CJ again not to hang onto the side of the grocery cart.