Grunt, creek, creek… grunt, creek, creek…
My legs swung back and forth. I was using all of my strength to get that swing into the heavens. It seemed impossible.
“Mom, can you give me another push?” I whimpered.
“Are you kidding me?! You can do it. Just focus and keep pumping your legs.”
I looked around and saw all the other moms and dads in the park, pushing their little kids in the blazing heat of June. I wondered why my mom couldn’t just do the same. But I was never one to try and question her. I did all I could to avoid “the look.” You know, that look parental figures get in their eyes when they feel their authority is being questioned.
“Okay,” I mumbled. I didn’t think I could do it. But Mom never seemed to doubt me. I wrapped my small hands tightly around the metal chains, wiggled into position, tilted back and I was off.
“Now just keep pumping your legs back and forth kiddo! You’ve got this!” my mom encouraged me. It seemed like she wanted this more than I did. I didn’t want to let her down, so I kept at it. Eventually I was so high up in the blue sky, the tips of my shoes were playing tag with the clouds. A grin stretched across my face from one ear to the other. I had done the impossible. I had flown.
I jumped off the swing and dug my feet into the warm sand. “Mom! Did you see me? Did you see?” I exclaimed.
“Of course I saw. I didn’t take my eyes off you for one second!” she smiled.
Back then, I didn’t understand why my mom made me do everything for myself. If I couldn’t get my swing going, why wouldn’t she just push me?
Throughout the years, my mother has given me the greatest gift a parent can give her child: tough love, freedom and independence. She has taught me how to face challenges myself. She has prepared me for my future. And she has shown me a great deal of love and compassion while being my teacher, two parents in one, and my best friend.
Every time she heard the words “I can’t do it” a smile crossed her face because she knew I could. If she had pushed my swing, I never would have jumped off it feeling so wonderfully accomplished.