In less than two weeks, I will ride my bike a grueling, but beautiful, 190 miles to benefit cancer research. (See my note HERE if you want to learn more.) The price of entry is a fundraising commitment that seems impossible: $4300, and I treasure every gift, whether large or small.

Many, many people support me with donations and encouragement, but no one believes in me more completely than my daughter. In 2010, she begged me to let her set up a lemonade stand so she could have some spending money. At the end of the day, with a sly grin she proudly handed me the entire proceeds, $13.25, for my PMC ride. That had been her plan all along.

Last year, she gave me the only $5 she had in her possession, with a note that said, “Just do it, Mommy!” and she followed up this year with a flurry of organization. In May, she began prodding me to get on the bike, get my fundraising letters out, and get on with it. If it weren’t for her, I’d probably still be procrastinating.

Little did I know, her organization didn’t stop with getting me in line. For months, she has quietly squirreled away every coin, bill, and birthday check that has come into her possession. Yesterday, she presented me with $47.64 that helped push me over the threshold of my fundraising commitment. Stunned at her forethought and planning–not to mention the generosity of giving me everything she had–I had no words beyond, “Are you sure?”

Some part of me feels guilty for taking money from a child, but a bigger part realizes that this is her way to shine. She has long-since thought this through. This is her gift to me and to the cause, and she has worked hard to pull it together. To refuse it would not only be an insult to her efforts, but it would also constrict the very thing I should be nurturing: her generous heart.

As a parent, I struggle daily with knowing when to direct, when to guide, when to suggest, and when to back away. I want my kids not only to do the right thing, but also to identify it and choose it for themselves. That means I can’t always tell them what to do; I have to let them make their own choices. It’s hard, because I think of all the ways they could fall down. What I often forget, however, is how much higher they’ll soar if I remove my tether. Today, my daughter is soaring higher than I ever will.