Friday, March 3, 2017

The Bittersweet Beauty of Our Children's Growing Independence

I’m not sure when it started, this fixation of taking photos of my children while walking or standing behind them. It must seem strange to some, I’m sure, this view of the back of my children’s heads and bodies.

It has always seemed natural for me, however. What no one tells you before you have children is that parenting is just a long series of letting go, of allowing freedom. In many ways, both literally and figuratively, our children spend much of their lives walking away from us. The events are too many to list here and they begin the very moment of birth:

-The first time that you hold them outside of your own body, your stomach mourning the loss of the movement and life within.

-The first time your baby eats table food, instead of the nourishment from your own body.

-The first tentative steps taken, which quickly turns into running and, for the first time, you are chasing after your child-- the same child that spent the last year safely in the confines of your body and then your arms.

-The first day of preschool, when they run excitedly to play with other children and away from the safety of you.

-The first time that you realize that they would rather spend an evening with their friends, instead of with you.

-The first time that they keep a secret from you and you realize that they have parts of their life that you aren’t a part of.

There are many of these moments. They often come suddenly, these flashes of your child’s independence. It’s enough to take your breath away. It is the way of parenthood, a natural happening and, yet, it can be so painful for the parents who want so desperately to be able to keep their children safe and loved forever. The days often pass so slowly, but the years pass so breathtakingly quickly as a parent. 

So, these pictures of my children walking away from me seem incredibly natural to me. It is natural for children to grow up and learn to live a life separate from their parents, even as painful as it can be for me as their mother.

It is our job, however, to raise our children as independent souls who will thrive on their own in the world. So, while it often hurts my heart to think of how my children are growing up and will be someday off on their own in this big old world, I am proud to see them becoming amazing young adults.

I am trying terribly hard to not view these photos as walking away from their mother, but to see them for what they really are-- my children walking towards an extraordinarily beautiful life for them out in the world.

My children will have their own journey in this life. They will have a life completely separate from mine. That is such a lovely and wonderful part of life. It is my job to prepare them to explore the world, and themselves, at their own pace as they step into themselves and their purpose in the world. I admit that it pains me that they will someday leave the safety of my nest, but I am embracing the beauty of my own journey of motherhood and the journey of what will come for my own life after my loves leave my home to make a place of their own.

These pictures of my children walking away from me are a beautiful reminder to me of the impermanence of the time that my children will spend in my home and in my arms. However, motherhood is not impermanent-- I will love and support them forever and always. 

 Keep walking, wandering and discovering the big world outside of the safety of my arms,  my littlest loves. It is okay to leave your Mama behind- I will always be waiting for you to fly back into my arms when you can. I can’t wait to see the mark that you leave on this world and you cannot do that if you live your entire life sheltered by me, as much as my mother’s heart longs to keep you safe. There is a great, big world out there and it is yours for the taking.


  1. My daughter is 18 months and she is growing up fast, soon I will be like you.

  2. Love this! I am always taking pictures like this. It is so sentimental!

    1. I'm glad that I'm not the only one!

  3. Since I don't have kids, I can only relate this to my mom and how she felt when I was growing up. I do think that hearing you talk about this, makes me much more empathetic when she would get all teary eyed at times!!
    Thanks for the great read!

  4. So true. They grow up far too fast but, of course, that is what they are supposed to do. I know a lot of bloggers take photos of their kids this way to protect their identities more, and I had never considered this additional perspective on the photos from behind - it's a lovely way to look at it.

  5. These are lovely photos. One of my favorite photos of my own son was taken when he was about 2 yo walking away from me down the driveway. I recreated the scene for my oldest grandson and also took one of my son and grandson walking away, both of which I love. They do evoke mixed emotions of sadness and joy at the thought of them being on their own, hope for their future but a piece of emptiness in mine. They do grow up so fast and now I'm seeing my grandsons grow at lightning speed.