Recently swim team tryouts were held for the Special Olympics in our area. I learned about the team after much prodding from my husband to get our daughter, Jordynn, involved in swimming as she loves it so much. Researching on the internet late one night I ran across the Special Olympics website and reached out to the county representative about the swim team. Shortly after I received a reply from the teams coordinator/coach who provided me with information about the team and added me to the mailing list. That was about three months ago.
The tryouts called for participants to swim the entire length of an Olympic-sized pool and back. Although Jordynn had never swam a pool of that length before, both my husband and I suspended any reservations we had to allow her the opportunity to try…we had to take a step back and let her go.
It is never easy for me to let the girls venture out on their own without either their dad or me acting as a safeguard against failure for them. In fact that may very well be THE greatest challenge of parenting. While the act gives me a sensation akin to that of free-falling on one of those gigantic roller coasters, I recognize the fact that letting go is something I must do for my children in order for them to be grow into the young women they were created to be. For that reason I hold myself back from intervening and push aside the strong sensation to intercede on their behalf in those situations I know they have been well equipped to deal with. Instead I take a step back, let go, wait and watch. Without fail I am amazed by my children! When given the chance to try on their own both Jordynn and Jocelynn exceed even what I thought possible for them.
The Butterfly Story
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening was God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly! – Author Unknown
At the swim tryouts Jordynn’s dad stood inconspicuously at the ready to jump in the water to help his baby girl (nevermind the highly trained lifeguard on duty to ensure pool safety – LOL). Her dad let her go though, he took a step back and let her try. To his amazement Jordynn powerfully swam the entire length of the pool back and forth, again and again, with speed and agility. She was a natural and of course her swim lessons over the years didn’t hurt either (smile)! Jordynn made the team and she loves swimming! I was humbled and moved emotionally when my husband described to me Jordynn tackled the new challenge.
With all of this my point is simple, regardless if your child is “differently-abled” or not, you are obligated as a parent to let them try on their own…to take a step back and allow them to struggle. Though it may never by easy to do, in the end it is worth the step back to see what your child is able to accomplish on his or her own. As in nature, if you make your child’s life too easy…if you remove all struggle for them, you will only work to handicap them in the end. For me The Butterfly Story always springs to mind and tempers my actions when I find myself tempted to intervene too much on their behalf. Though a simple parable, the story of the struggling butterfly conveys a powerful message about the crippling effect of “helping” too much. So again, it’s worth taking a step back so that your children can fly!