mother hugging daughter

I put my daughter down and never picked her back up

As mothers, knowing when to step back and let our child face the world can be, even if it’s only for a moment. A few years ago, Candice Curry, author and mother of 6 wrote a short piece called ‘I put my daughter down and never picked her back up’ that perfectly encapsulates the moments we go through. Early childhood development between the ages of 2 and 4 years old is such a rapid growth phase. Your toddler steadily becomes more and more independent and looks for new boundaries to test out. This is a learning curve both for your child and for you as a mother.


It can be so tough knowing when to let go, or even when to give your child that extra push they need to keep growing on their journey. These moments may come in the form of their first outing to the park, their first day at kindergarten, or even their first time baking in the kitchen at home. Each of these situations has its own set of worries and risks, but more importantly, they give your child a chance to make mistakes and learn from them. This freedom builds trust, which a child will thrive on as they grow.

Candice Curry holds her daughter close.
Image: Candice Curry

It’s not easy letting go

Candice describes the empowering feeling of letting go when she says, “One day, without me realizing it, she got strong. Strong enough to carry on when she was tired.” She continues, “Strong enough to comfort her own pain. One day I put her down and never picked her back up. One day, without me realizing it, she could see without my help. She could see above the crowd. She could see what lay ahead“. [1]

Candice Curry

While this may sound liberating, it doesn’t mean all of us magically reach this stage as parents. Not everyone is instantly trusting and free-spirited, especially when our child is at this explorative age. Every child and mother is different, so there isn’t a quick fix for developing trust. Not every mom is perfect either, so many of us have issues of our own that tend to pop up right in these vulnerable moments. Separation anxiety may be common in children aged between 6 months to 3 years old, but it can also affect us as mothers.


The struggle is real

Author and qualified psychotherapist Vivien Sable says that parents “also struggle with strong and sometimes overwhelming feelings in relation to the potential and real absence of their children or loved ones.” [2]

She states that “Parental separation anxiety can develop during pregnancy, postnatal or at any point during their offspring’s childhood. It could be triggered as a result of birth trauma, perinatal or postnatal anxiety/depression and existing anxiety issues, or it may simply be triggered by the act of becoming a parent.” [2]

Vivien explains, “Parents may experience acute anxiety when their child begins nursery, starts school or spends time away from the family home. This anxiety may present itself as low mood, anger or catastrophic thinking.” She seeks out solutions, “However it presents itself, there are ways of managing some of these thoughts and feelings.” [2]

Vivien Sable, Counselling Directory

Never suffer in silence

The subject of separation anxiety as a mother can be a touchy one. No mom wants critique on their relationship with their child, but there is nothing to gain through silence. Overcoming this anxiety alone can feel like an extra mountain to climb, so having the right support and advice around you will help you cope. The task of being a mother can overwhelm us and even make us feel isolated sometimes, so keep the communication open with your nearest and dearest. [2]


Candice concludes her inspiring piece on a rather resounding note. “She’ll never rest on the crook of my hip or fall asleep with her little legs dangling from my side.” She continues, “She’ll never need me to help her see above the crowd. She’ll never be small enough for my arms to bear the weight,” and finally, “She’ll never reach her arms to me so I will pick her up. One day I put my daughter down and never picked her back up.” This gives us a simple reminder that this is a phase that each mother and each child must go through, and it too shall pass. [1]

Candice Carrie

Keep Reading: 8 Truths we Should Tell Our Daughters Before They Become Adults



  1. I put my daughter down and never picked her back up.” Today. April 1, 2019
  2. Understanding parental separation anxiety.” Counselling Directory. August 10, 2017
Jade Small
Freelance Writer
Jade is a freelance writer and content creator from South Africa with over 7 years experience writing and creating. She's also a proud single mom to a super 13 year old boy.