Don't get me wrong -- I love the snuggles. I love them so much. I love it when Ava asks me for help, when she grabs my hand while I'm working and says, "Play with ME! mama" and leads me away from my computer, or when she gets a boo-boo and just wants me to hold her. I love all of that -- I love every single second she needs her mama. And that will never stop.
But I also want to raise an independent young woman.
Of course it's nice when she can play on her own for a little bit so I have some time to work during the day and of course it makes me prouder than ever when she figures out how to open something on her own for the first time but more than that, her independence (or dependence on me) starts now.
Ava's only two and she's doing things I didn't even do until I was 14 years old. Seriously. Like why did I ask my mom to choose food on the menu for me through middle school? (true story) Growing up in very privileged areas and going to very privileged schools (college being where I saw this the most), I saw seen so many adults not know how to get through life without their parents. And I'm not talking about never speaking to our parents or asking them for advice and leaning on them when we need to even into adulthood, but I'm talking about adult things that no parent should be doing for their adult kids (in my humble opinion). And I'm just going to leave it at that, because I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about.
I don't want Ava to grow up like them.
I want to raise an independent young woman so she knows her worth in this society. I want to raise a self-sufficient little girl so she knows that she's strong and important and able and can do anything and everything she puts her mind and heart into. That's the kind of girl I want to raise and I don't want her ever, for even a second, to believe otherwise. So this is what I'm doing for her right now to ensure I raise her in that way:
When we go to Starbucks, Ava orders her own drinks and snacks and you better believe she says, "please" and "thank you." "Pink lollipop please" or "water please" or when she decides on a snack from the cart, yep, she's the one who scans it. When we go to get ice cream we have her order her own ice cream every single time -- "pink ice cream please" and if they ask if she wants a cup or a cone? You guessed it. We ask her to answer their question directly. Next up, we're going to start having her do the same in restaurants because why not?
I know it sounds like something so simple, but I want her to be able to make these decisions for herself, I want her to be able to speak to adults without hesitation and to speak with them politely. And that's exactly what we've grilled into her even at age two and I have to say, I'm one proud mama.
Every single time she places her own order, adults around us gush and smile and cannot believe there eyes. And you know what? We can teach all of our babies that independence...one baby step at a time.
Photos by Briana Lindsey Photography