Not to long ago we were out and about when Abby came up to me and asked: "What's this?" My heart nearly leap out of my chest when I realized that she was holding a peanut M&M. I took it away from her and gently explained it was something that would make her very, very sick. Then yesterday I was getting ready to go outside to do yard work; when I came into the kitchen to see if Abby had her shoes on, too, I was surprised to see she wasn't there. Through the window in the back door I saw a small head of brown hair bobbing in and out of sight. I ran, flung the door open, scooped up my daughter and then tried to calmly explain why going outside without Mommy is such a bad idea.
It has been a long week for me, full of reminders that everyday my daughter is pushing her orbit out a little further away from me and everyday the world is getting a little closer to her. And this is a world full of dangerous, terrifying things. Because how do you explain to a 3 year old that something as tiny as a candy covered peanut is waiting to kill her? That there are bad things, bad people, waiting outside to hurt her? How do you begin the lesson that there isn't a Fairy Godmother waiting to make sure the end comes out right; that sometimes Prince Charming shows up, but he never finds the glass slipper or, worse yet, he picks the evil step sister instead. How do you prepare her for a lifetime of unknowns, of scary, of broken hearts and sometimes hurt?
As a mother how do you raise them to let them go? Because I know that is what we are meant to do: raise competent adults from the children we have been blessed with. My own mother stood aside and let me grow into a woman, and then later into a wife and mother. But Mom? How did you manage to breathe while you did it? Because I've been holding my breath since Abby found a peanut M&M and the world and all it's tiny horrors opened before me. And I am terrified to take the next breath, and the next, and the all the ones after that.