I read an article awhile ago about how it’s possible to become addicted to your child. Before I got pregnant, I swore to myself this would never happen to me. In fact, I remember sitting at a restaurant with a friend a few years ago having lunch and complaining about how clogged my Facebook feed was of babies and children.
“I’m not going to be one of those people,” I huffed to her. “I’m going to actually have a life.”
Fast forward two years and there I was, one of those people—with no life and obsessed with my daughter.
I can now see how easy it is to over-parent. To hover. To want to protect your child from any harm. To think about them from sun up to sun down, wondering if you are doing a good job at this parenting thing. My own anxiety gets in the way of letting her go, and I wonder if I’m going to be the kind of parent I swore I'd never be—a helicopter parent.
I see it in the way that I’m hesitant to leave her with anyone that I won’t trust will give me their kidney if I needed it. I hug her tightly to me in the chair of the doctor’s office, so she won’t wander amongst the sick kids and potentially get sick herself. And I know I'm not the only mom to feel that way.
Raising a child means you're constantly caught in a dilemma on how to protect them without keeping them from experiencing the world.
Anytime I catch myself trying to hover unnecessarily, I repeat my own mantra: Let her be a kid. Let her be a kid.
And to walk that fine line, I'm learning to to let go of a few things:
1. Letting her do things for herself
She wanted to climb the step ladder of a slide that the bigger kids were going up on earlier this week at an indoor playground. Instead of pulling her away, I decided to see what she would do. I stood by, ready to catch her if she slipped, and she climbed that thing four times and went down the slide by herself. And she was so proud.
She goes to “school” once a week and they always have a messy activity. I took the teachers’ words to heart, brought her in play clothes and watched as she explored wet sand, shaving cream, and finger paint. I’ve learned that letting them get messy can prevent some sensory issues in the future and that paint wipes off.
3. Letting her make mistakes
My mom would probably be horrified if she read this, but sometimes I let her fall. We’re not talking about the bedroom window or anything, but if she climbs up onto her little chair to play by the couch, I don’t rush over there to grab her if she stumbles. Half the time she's able to catch her balance herself and when she falls, well, she falls. And guess what? She gets over it.
This has been the hardest to let go, being a full-blown germaphobe myself. It’s hard to keep my inner nurse in when I see her bend down to the floor at Target and grab at a piece of some unidentifiable gross object. I'm still disgusted, so it’s definitely a work in progress.
Anytime I catch myself trying to hover unnecessarily, I repeat my own mantra: Let her be a kid. Let her be a kid. Like anything in life, there needs to be balance in order to raise these tiny children into responsible, successful adults. It is possible, as parents, to continue being their protectors and still let them go.
Just excuse me while I go cry in a corner that my baby is growing up.