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Before You Give Them to the World

 

My kids are doing fine with school.  I, however, am having a harder time.  In general, I’ve never been a very good rule follower.  As a child, I questioned and argued.  As a young adult, I went to law school, which is the place for those who were children who questioned and argued.  And now, as a parent, I’m just like “what the heck?” a whole lot.

Now that my children are in real school with teachers and people that they will be with for a long time, I don’t want to be THAT mom – you know the one –  the chronic emailer, meeting requester, complainer.

But, here’s the thing: I don’t know how to parent acceptably (to others) without helicoptering.  My 6-year-old walked my 3-year-old into preschool last week while I waited in the car with my 1-year-old.  We talked about how to do it; he was proud, she was excited.  I kissed them both and waited for my 6-year-old to come back out to me.  He did, but with the news that he is not allowed to walk her into school alone.  An adult has to do it.

I’m an attorney, so I get the liability thing.  But, at what point do we say enough?  At what point do we acknowledge that the benefits of creating independence outweigh the risks of, say, tripping up the stairs?  Can we expect them to take on bigger, more significant responsibilities as they get older when we won’t let them conquer small tasks as young children?  I don’t want to helicopter, but I also don’t want to get in trouble for not helicoptering.

My goals with my children include encouraging confidence and independence.  I think parents have a hard time with the independence piece.  Even if they say that they want that for their children, they don’t actually want it: they want to be needed forever and ever so they always have some strings (usually it’s financial support as the kids grow into adults).  I want my children to need me when they need me and I want to help them when they need me.  I also very much want them to not need me sometimes.  When they don’t need me, I want to be woman enough to be proud of that, not sad about it.  I don’t want to create a need for myself by fostering an unhealthy dependency between us.

I want to continue to parent according to what I believe to be best for them.  It’s hard to do that once you start to give them to the world.

Before You Give Them to the World

I didn’t even know
when I was good
at doing this thing
called mothering.

By the time I realize
I am doing all right,
that phase is gone
and the next has come
to trip me up.

It feels overwhelming at first –
what with the feeding,
the diapering,
the sleeping –
and then, suddenly,
miraculously,
we’re on our way,
for a few months at least.

And we do it again and again
as new babies come.
I get the hang of it;
we’re OK.

Suddenly,
miraculously,
it’s school
and forms
and fees
and deadlines
and friends
and I’m tired

and thinking back to when
my arms
and my body
were all that we needed
to be good.

***

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2 Comments
  • Oh my goodness do I love this. I’m also an attorney (though in a much reduced capacity now as writing takes over my life, thankfully) and I think this very same way so much of the time now, especially the part about getting in trouble for "not helicoptering". It’s really hard to do, particularly when friends or family are point blanking you, "aren’t you going to go stand near her at the shore/walk with her to the end of the street/go into the bathroom with her at the store?" My daughter is seven, and if I can’t watch/listen from increasingly longer distances, how will she ever learn independence? I so get this. Very happy to have found your blog via Mamalode.

    October 21, 2014 at 2:52 pm
    • Anne Flavin
      Reply

      YES! Thanks, Kristen.

      October 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm

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