So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Yesterday we found the battery in my daughter’s car dead. We realized it when she hopped in to go to my parents’ house for the weekend, a 200-mile drive. And it was my fault; I was the last to drive the car. We worked together, got it jumped, and off she went. Then, about halfway to my parents’ house, she got gas and the car refused to start back up. 

She called me, clearly upset, and I swear in my mind I heard a sweet little kindergartner on the other end of the line.

Everything in me wanted to drop everything and make a land speed record over that 100-mile stretch between her and me. But . . . 

I realized she could do it. She needed a coach, not a rescuer. 

Deep breath. 

“Here’s what you need to do, honey . . . ”

I worried I was letting her down, that she needed me. And you know what? I kind of miss being needed. I actually had my coat and boots on to leave when she called me back saying she got the car going with help from a Good Samaritan.

She did it. By herself. It was her success. That success has been the goal of my parenting every single step of the way, since the first time I laid eyes on her in the delivery room.

I know, I know, I KNOW my daughter is a fierce, capable, strong young woman. I want her to tackle the world and leave her mark on it, and she has the chutzpah to to it. Yet somehow, when she had this mini-crisis, it took everything in me not to jump right in and solve it for her. In fact, had she been closer than 100 miles away, I probably would have robbed her of the opportunity to get this success under her belt—swooped in, taken over, and fixed it for her, because it would make me feel good. It would give me the success. I don’t want to be that parent, I really don’t.

And so help me it’s hard to stop myself.

We are long past the stage when my daughter can come to me with all of her woes and I can fix them up like some kind of maternal magician. In this new stage I step back and act as a safety net, allowing her to fall, and only keeping the fall from being catastrophic. Even though my head insists this is right, my heart screams for me to kiss away her boo boos. 

You know, it’s time for me to get a muzzle for my heart. A young adult doesn’t need a mommy who doesn’t know when to stop treating her like a kindergartner. If I listen to my need to be needed this time, what happens the next time, and the next time? When does it end? Will I force her to push me away, or will I end up becoming her co-dependent enabler, ensuring that she can’t do anything on her own?

No way.

My daughter is worthy of far better than that.

It’s hard, like gutwrenchingly hard, to take this step back and allow my child to step forward into independence and adulthood. 

But you know what? She was proud of herself for solving her own problem. She took responsibility for the matter, and in doing so, she became just a little more empowered, a little bit stronger. If I had fixed it, she would have appreciated me, sure, but since she fixed it, she has ownership. 

All the angst over not stepping in to save the day dissolved the instant she called me back, triumphant, telling me she was on the road again and all set. That, my friends, is the sum total of my 18 years of parenting doing its job. And it was the best feeling ever.

Alethea Mshar

Alethea Mshar is a mother of four children; an adult child who passed away of a drug overdose, one typical daughter and two sons who have Down syndrome, one of whom has autism spectrum disorder and complex medical needs. She has written "What Can I Do To Help", a guide to stepping into the gap when someone you know has a child diagnosed with cancer, which is available on Amazon, and is publishing a memoir titled, "Hope Deferred". She can be found on Twitter as leemshar, and blogs for The Mighty HuffPost as Alethea Mshar, as well as her own blog, Ben's Writing Running Mom on She is also on Facebook as Alethea Mshar, The Writing, Running Mom.

In This Magical Place Called Kindergarten

In: Kids
Kids at elementary school circle time

It’s hard to put into words what happens in a classroom in the course of a year. Especially a kindergarten classroom. For many children, this is their first experience away from home, from their place of comfort and security—the place where they can always be themselves. But teachers are a special breed—especially teachers of littles. And they step into this substitute role with the biggest hearts and the most love to give. They take this unknown, intimidating place and then transform it into a magical, wondrous adventure. A classroom, a community, a family. A place where these little people can...

Keep Reading

Summer Goes by Too Fast

In: Kids
Boy lying on bench at park, color photo

To my oldest, As our summer vacation nears an end and we begin school supply shopping, I think about all the things we didn’t get to do together this summer. I instantly feel mom guilt. All the plans I had made? Only half of them done—if that. RELATED: Remember When Summer Lasted Forever? All the books I was going to read to you at bedtime? Only a couple short ones. All the creative art we would do? Maybe just one time. The fact is, I let time slip away from me. I was too focused and anxiety-ridden about work, my...

Keep Reading

Going on Family Vacation with Young Kids is Work That’s Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom with two young kids on airplane

Our routine will be a mess. Our toddler won’t sleep in a new environment. Our baby needs all of the gear. The flight could be a disaster. I went through a mental checklist of reasons why this kind of family vacation would be hard. It was a pretty convincing list if I’m being honest. I considered throwing a pity party dedicated to the concerns I shoulder as a mother. A few days later I felt a wave of conviction wash over me. I was dreading a trip that was meant to be a blessing to our family. Any kind of...

Keep Reading

I Want To Raise Good Sisters

In: Kids, Motherhood
Four girls sitting on a rock in the forest, color photo

My current dilemma: how to teach four little girls how to be good sisters when I have no idea what I’m doing? I was an only child growing up, and a tomboy at that. It was a lonely, quiet childhood. I remember wishing for a sister, but knowing that with my single mom, it wasn’t going to happen. So, the sister thing is a big mystery to me. I’ve noticed (admittedly with some envy) adult sisters together and their inside jokes, shared history, and language known only to each other. I’ve read about sisters in books. The relationships between the four...

Keep Reading

I Don’t Just Love You, I Like You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boy standing at bridge, color photo

My growing child, my heart often aches when I look at how big you have gotten. You aren’t a baby anymore, you’re a whole kid. You are your own person, with your own thoughts and feelings. You have your own friendships, and interests.  Parts of me realize you don’t need me the same, but deep down I know you need me all the same. And I’m realizing, that in all of these changes, my love for you is also a like.  RELATED: Being Your Mom is the Greatest Honor of My Life Because now we can connect in a whole...

Keep Reading

Dear Kindergartner, I’ll Always Remember You This Way

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and child touch foreheads

The first magical flickers of your strong heartbeat on a black and white screen— the reassuring evidence I needed to know you were gaining strength for this world. My belly grew, and I proudly went shopping for maternity clothes to cover it. I felt the first dances of your little feet, and it reminded me of butterflies taking flight— the movement of a true miracle. I’ll always remember you this way. The sounds of your first cries—music ringing in my ears. You were real, Earth-side, and wanting only to be loved. The softness of your skin, the way you smelled,...

Keep Reading

Having the Tools To Parent a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder Changes Everything

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child playing with water in tube

My heart leaped into my mouth as Soccer Mom, with her matching foldable chairs and ice-cold Gatorade, glared at me. I wanted to explain how hard I tried to be a good mom, to raise a kind human, but I swallowed the words so I could vomit them at my 5-year-old son on the ride home.   Didn’t he know that pushing another child was unacceptable? Hadn’t I taught him to use gentle hands?   RELATED: To the Special Needs Mom Who Sits Alone Despite implementing the parenting books that promised me a new kid by the week’s end, I often wondered...

Keep Reading

I’m Halfway Through Raising Little Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two girls smiling outside

Today I stayed in my car a few minutes more than usual as my kids hopped out onto the hot driveway and ran inside. The cold air conditioning felt amazing after a long day at the local water park; so did the silence. Then it felt odd, so I turned on the radio. The song that started playing hit my soul: “Woah, we’re halfway there/Woah, livin’ on a prayer.” I’m always living on a prayer, but I also noticed we are halfway there. RELATED: Growing Up, You First Then Me Halfway through the year, more than halfway through summer, and...

Keep Reading

There’s No Instruction Manual for These Middle Years

In: Kids
Little girl smiling on porch

As a preschool teacher and a mom, I’ve always felt pretty confident in my parenting from ages birth to 5 years old.  I by no means am perfect, and I silently rejoiced the day my kids could pour their own cereal and turn on Netflix for themselves while I caught some extra sleep. Even though that’s probably not a proud mama moment to celebrate, it’s just the reality of parenting.  We both celebrate and mourn independence as our children need us less. And let’s be honest, oftentimes independence makes our daily lives easier. Yet it is bittersweet.  It feels like...

Keep Reading

Kindergarten is the Start of Letting You Go

In: Kids, Motherhood

We’re physically ready for kindergarten. We’ve got the backpack, the school supplies, the school clothes, and the new shoes. We’ve talked about it all summer. We’ve practiced the skills he will need, and how to open everything inside of a cold lunch box. We’ve talked positively about it and imagined all the friends he will meet and the places he will go, and how kind and caring the teacher will be. We’re physically ready for kindergarten. But here’s a little secret . . . My heart? My heart can’t fully be ready for him to go to kindergarten. I know...

Keep Reading