That Time You Tried to Fly


For well over an hour we ran up and down the hill in the park behind our condo. We threw the frisbee to each other, collected pine needles and invented our own games. Your face glistened in the sun. It always does. You were born to live in the sun.

You walked your tightrope. A retaining wall 6 feet high. I warned you. I always warn you. Be careful. Walk slow. Don't fall.

I make you more scared than you need to be. I don't mean to. I weigh the options in my fear-bound mind and fear-less heart. Do I want you to see your first therapist because you are too scared or not scared enough? Do I want your prayers to be small and scared or bold and broken? How does one pick? I am constantly trying to dance this shaky, stretched-thin line of protecting you and pushing you out of the nest, begging you to be brave, hoping you will fly fearless.

You lost your footing. You gripped on for dear life to the top brick of cement. Eyes wide and terrified. And then, in an instant, you lost your grip. Screaming in sheer terror, you fell six feet down to the muddy ground below. You hit- back, head, body, soul- in a thud that left you breathless and writhing in pain.

I scooped you up as you screamed. My heart racing. My stomach churning. You told me how bad it hurt. How it hurt all over. Through your blood-curling screams and whimpers you whispered the hardest words I've ever heard and I've heard a lot.

"I never thought it would happen to me momma." And the worst "Did you try to catch me momma?"

One day you will love another person as deeply as I love you. And the first time they try to fly- and fail- your soul will be rattled and your bones will ache. You will know, in the back of your mind, that the moment was coming. But when it arrives, the innocent shock that inches its way over their broken face will paralyze your heart.

Did you try to catch me Momma?

It won't come out as an accusation, but a genuine question, a deep need they have to know whether you tried- tried with everything you had in you- to catch them. And you will tell them- of course, of course I tried to catch you...

but I couldn't.

And right there, in those words, you will face one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make as they move forward:

Will you help them hide or help them fly?

Everything in me wants to wrap you up in bubble wrap so you can never break. And yet I want to see you soar. And if you are all wrapped up and protected from the world- you will never learn to leap and not look back. And I'm trying the best I can to dance this shaky, stretched-thin line of protecting you and pushing you out of the nest, begging you to be brave, hoping you will fly fearless...

So I will pick you up from preschool today. And when we get home, we will go back there, to the wall you fell off of yesterday. And I won't force you. But I will hold your hand and I will ask you to walk the long length of it with me, hand in hand. And no doubt you will be terrified and maybe you won't even take a single step today. But that's ok. We will go everyday until you can. And one day, you will walk the wall again without my hand.

Because if I have to choose a path to guide you down in this life it will not be the path of fear, wrapped up and protected, praying small, scared prayers.

I will try to catch you- but even when I can't (and that will be often)- I will beg you to be brave. I will beg you to fly fearless.

I will remind you of that one time you tried to fly and you crashed and burned. And I will remind you of what Dr. Stacy told you that day, "This will be the first of many falls in your life- but you are brave- so you can always get back up."

And then?

With trembling hands, against everything logical in my mind, against my own fears and desire for you to be perfectly protected and safe-

I will push you back out of the nest and watch you try all over again, because baby you weren't born to hide you were born to fly.