Whitney Houston Had it Right

I view my role as a mother primarily as one of response. My child presents me with a need and I respond to it. While this may seem simple, it certainly can keep me on my toes! My oldest is 6 and I believe I know her the best. But as she is her own person and constantly changing, many times the needs she presents take me by surprise. We have a certain rhythm between us, things we say and do. There is no easier rapport than a small child and her mother. As she grows, there have been many times, however, where I have had to go back to the drawing board in how I respond to her. She does things that are new, takes on different attitudes, grows into herself and so as a mother, I must adapt. 
Of course, I'm changing too. I'm growing older. I'm gaining life experience. I'm working on my own problems and that is making me aware of where I fall short. My daughter, Macy, is a lot like me. In fact, Tim says he can't think of an area of our personalities where we differ. This is a great joy to me and also a terrible burden. I see my own perfectionism in her 6 year old mind. I see her struggle to make her work exactly right. I hear herread an entire book over again if she makes a mistake. It breaks my heart. But I'm happy to say that as I'm learning new life skills (extending myself grace, making my own choices and owning them, dispelling anything that smells like shame), I am simultaneously sharing them with her. We talk about shame and grace. I apologize. I empathize as she struggles with her frustration when her abilities do not reach her high standards. 
I'm writing about this tonight because while I've had many seasons of adjustment with Macy, I'm going through my first real adjustment with Penny. She's 10 and half months old and she is starting to need me less. Don't get me wrong, she fusses when I leave the room, even to use the bathroom. But she's nursing less often. She's sleeping through the night. She's kissing her daddy voluntarily! (I have yet to share this joy). She's feeding herself more. She's walking. You get the idea. And while I'm ready in a lot of ways for a longer leash (it's been a tough year), I have to say, I'm still sad! Penny is our second and last child. 2 incidences of postpartum depression, the second of which was severe, will definitely inform your fertility choices! But she is my little treasure, an absolute joy to my heart. And she's ready to be shared with more people. Our tiny circle of 4 is starting to bust open. 
It's tricky being in an unequal relationship. A dynamic where one person's needs dictate your level of interaction. It's not that my needs don't matter or that I understand the value of setting boundaries with my kids (or at least, I'm working on it) but I believe the parent/child relationship will never be a fully 2-way street. I enjoy a friendship with my parents as an adult, but they will always be my parents. And I expect the same to be true for me with my children. 
I find a lot of parenting philosophies feel like the parents leading the children, enforcing the rules, showing them who's boss, etc. But I feel like in this relationship of response, it's the opposite. My children show me the way to be their mother. Sometimes I come in to reprimand and find they need a hug. And sometimes you nurse a baby every 2 hours until all of a sudden, you realize she can wait half the day at this age! (Sometimes I'm a bit slow on the uptake:)
Maybe this doesn't make me seem very powerful or commanding, but I'm happy to let my children lead me. I respect that they are people, very much a part of me, but entirely separate from me as well. I believe they have things to teach me, thoughts to inspire me, and love to fill me with joy. Yes, of course, I have things to teach them as well. But I'm working on teaching them the lessons they're asking for, moment by moment, as they lead the way. I know I've only been a mom for 6 years and there is a lot of new territory ahead of me, but this is what's worked for me so far anyway. Though I will say, one of the many things I've already taught my girls is that it's okay to change your mind.