Your child is not ‘yours’—never was, never will be

It’s a bittersweet reality—they grow up.

Your child is not ‘yours’—never was, never will be

I’ve loved having her unconditional love, when her little hand slips into mine.

She says she needs to go to the bathroom, so I get up off the sand to go with her, because it’s at the surf club, and she has to walk through the car park all by herself and find her way to the female bathrooms up the stairs and negotiate waitresses and people and cars and skaters.

But she takes off without me.

Slowly I follow her over the dunes, careful not to let her know her mother’s following, as if I don’t know she’s a big girl already.


Inside the surf club, she’s nowhere to be seen. Walking into the bathroom, the cubicle door is closed but unlocked. A sign to me. Come in. I’m here. I go in and the pee smell is pungent but she and all her smells are never offensive. Not to a mother. She asks me to wipe her bottom, and even though she is seven and doesn’t need help anymore, her tummy is a bit upset, so I help. Still her Mama.

Thinking I might as well take advantage of being so close to ablutions, I sit down myself. She waits for a moment, then goes out to wash her hands. Usually we stay in the cubicles together.

Usually it takes forever.

Years of frustration have evaporated up the stall walls when she wouldn’t let me leave to wash my hands or just use the next cubicle. “I’m not far away,” I used to think. Sheesh. Just give me a little slack here

But this time she leaves. I hear the faucet go on as she washes both hands properly with soap, because she’s thorough like that. The paper dispenser grunts as she wrenches a sheet. She hates having wet hands.

Then, from behind my closed door, I hear it.

“Bye Mom.”

That’s it. She’s off.

Back down the long corridor, through the bar crowd and scruffy surfer dudes, past the waitresses, down the steps, across the car park and over the sand dunes and back to her friends on the beach.

We are not the only two girls in the cubicle anymore.

She isn’t waiting for me.

She doesn’t need to hold my hand.

She isn’t attached to me.

She left.

Her friends are more interesting.

My heart slams into my rib cage, and I want to cry.

I should be grateful I can finally pee in private.

I should be grateful I can come and go. But I’m not. I’m overwhelmed that this is the start of me not being the center of her world.

All her life her shyness has seen her slip between my skirts. The neediness has annoyed me at times. Don’t be so reticent, I have thought, gently pushing her out, which only forced her further into the folds.

Yet now, this afternoon, she’s playing a game in the sand with her friends at the wildest of beaches, and it’s left a small hole in my heart. She’s not looking around. Soon she will not want me to be visible to her. She’ll want me miles away, safely not looking, not knowing, not hearing anything. I’ll cramp her style. My skirts will cramp her style. She already hates it when I get song lyrics wrong.

Any shyness she faces will be her own, not mine to protect or fix.

I’ve loved having her unconditional love, when her little hand slips into mine. Yet suddenly her childhood is racing ahead of me.

It’s not mine to know everything about anymore.

She’s not mine.

She’s herself.

And slowly she’s riding away from me.

Which is exactly how it’s meant to be.

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

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