When you find out you're pregnant, it seems like people come out in large herds to give you advice.
"Sleep while you can."
"Sleep when the baby sleeps."
"You're going to be so tired!"
"Don't hold the baby too much; you'll spoil it!"
Then all of a sudden you're responsible for this tiny human. Nine months go by fast. (Other than the third trimester, which I'm sure you'll agree, lasts an eternity.) You'll blink then you'll be home with this life in your hands. And yes, it is hard. It is so hard. Then you blink again and you have a toddler. A preschooler. Then suddenly it's their first day of Kindergarten.
I just sent my oldest off to her first day of First Grade. While looking at her pictures from last year I realized there is one thing they don't warn you about that's the hardest part of all. Letting them grow up. She is becoming her own person. While it is still my job to guide them and try my best to help them navigate the tough parts of life, soon enough it'll be their turn to make their own mistakes.
As much as I want to hold on tight and never let that happen, I really don't have a choice. Having a child is accepting the fact that whatever happens to them will hurt you just as much, and there is no stopping it. And the older they get, holding on tight will have the opposite effect of what you want. They'll struggle to break free. As hard as that is, it is necessary. They have to find their own footing in life. They have to explore the world around with you as their navigator, but it is still their adventure.
Even with a first grader, I am getting a taste of what it is to let go. She's developing her own personality and sense of style. She's becoming more independent by the day. She wants to dress herself, pick her own clothes, organize her room how she wants it. And the more you trust them with the small stuff at this age, the easier it will be for them come to you when they make a big mistake.
If you want a child who will come to you when they need help, you have to trust them. You have to let them make mistakes. You have to let them figure out who they are as a person. The tighter you cling to control the sooner you will find it out of your grasp. Time goes by whether you want it to or not. Change is the only thing that is inevitable. Your baby, that it seems like just yesterday was a newborn coming home from the hospital, is going to grow up. They're not always going to make the choice that you want them too. You are their parent, but they are their own person.
They don't warn you when you're pregnant how painful it is for them to grow up. They don't tell you how hard it gets each year to send them off to that first day of school. They also don't tell you how important it is to trust them and communicate with them. Parenting is without a doubt the most challenging job you will ever have. So hold your babies. Let them crawl into bed with you at night. "Spoil them" if you want to. They're only babies for so long before they're off on their own adventures. Enjoy it while it lasts.