Monday, June 29, 2015

Being Protective, Letting Go

I remember when Elliot was small and I would have lunch once a week with my sisters and my mom (Why didn't I revere those days as golden?). I was probably hovering, fussing, helicoptering over that little boy all over the place. I remember my mom smirking at me and saying, "You should have another baby."

My reaction was to try to be offended. I didn't, still don't, like being given unsolicited advice. I grew up with two parents and a truckload of siblings and they often told me what I should or should not be doing. It was not easy. But I knew that day at lunch she was being subtle, letting me know I needed to relax, and that another baby would force me to do that.

The thing is, when you have a baby, and that baby is your first baby, and then that baby dies, you learn how much of life is out of your control. You, if you're me, become a freak for control. I had sat powerless for so many hours, holding my baby girl's hand while she endured pain because I couldn't do anything else for her. I could not stop any of it. It was awful. Controlling every possible circumstance after that was a way of showing the universe that Ha! You didn't get the best of me this time.

So I had taken this big leap already in having another baby. The baby was Elliot, he was here, he was healthy. I was terrified of that being taken away. I was terrified of him being hurt, or sad, or whatever. And I knew my mom was right. I needed, I wanted to have another baby.

Fast forward to last week, a conversation about protective parenting and how there's too much. I feel for children who get no free time because they are rushed to too many practices and lessons. I feel for kids who don't get to think for themselves, whose parents are one step behind every stride they try to make. I want my kids to feel confident, to be brave, to make their own sandwiches, beds, and decisions. I want them all to ride down hills on their bikes, jump freely into water and swim, and walk to a friend's house or home from school.

Of course, to gain confidence they will get hurt. A lot of somethings will happen. I will hold their hands, feel their hurt, and be powerless to take it away. But they will be better for it, and so will I.


Megan Goates said...

Ah, this is lovely. Parenting really is an exercise in giving up control. It's the painful part. It can't all be magical, I guess.

Jenny said...

Heart-wrenching and beautiful.

The Bayly's said...

Ah, I feel this so much right now. Dropping my oldest off at her first ever babysitting job, and hoping that I've prepared her enough. Feeling anxious about Junior High, and teendom. Wanting to tell them how to solve their friend problems, rather than ask them what they think is best. Oh boy, am I feeling it.