This past weekend, my daughter lost her balance on her horse and took her first fall while riding. It resulted in a broken arm. Not the worst outcome, not the best. She asked me shortly afterward, while we sat in the emergency room, “Why did you let me get hurt?”
It was an interesting moment for me as a mom. Over the years I have noticed the ways that my own fears, my own desires to have her avoid painful experiences were interfering with her growth. As a mom who co-parents with my former partner across 2 states (and one summer across the continents) I have deepened my acquaintance with my fear, my letting go. My thoughts screamed to me in the weeks leading up to separation and during the gap itself, “What if something happens? What if I’m not there!” Her other family is great…she’s always in good hands. But it was about my own ‘stuff’. The situation I believe only deepened an impulse that I have in me to hold close, to fear the worst, to imagine calamity, to believe that I can hold tragedy at bay if I only put enough effort into it.
The ride in which she was injured was the most joy-filled hour she had had all week. It’s been a hard stretch for her. She’s going through friendship changes and loss, wondering where she fits in. Now that her peers are falling into team sports, this message is reverberating for her. Riding was the one thing she felt belonged to her. It presented the possibility of mastery, confidence, connection and freedom. During the uncomfortable procedures and scary moments, her happy thought: Remembering that ride and how great it felt.
I let her get hurt because she deserves nothing less.