One of the hardest parts of motherhood for me is dealing with my anxiety, and trying to raise a child that’s not as anxious as me. It’s a constant struggle for me, trying to find balance between encouraging Bowie to spread his wings and try new things, and holding him back from potential dangers. And if I feel this way when he’s only 3 1/2, I don’t want to think about how difficult it will be when he’s 13 1/2.
The world is a big, wide, scary place with so many scary, scary things lurking around. But, it’s also a big, wide, beautiful, wonderful place bursting with new experiences, waiting to be had.
Kids have to go out into the world and experience life. But, they will inevitably get hurt, scared and disappointed. This is essential in the learning and growing-up process, but it’s hard for a mama to see her babies going through that. That quote that gets tossed around (and I’ve seen attributed to 3 different people, INTERNET. Ahem.) about parenthood being similar to having your heart on the outside of your body is no more true than when you talk about this. Your kid is sad, you are sad. Your kid is disappointed, you are disappointed. They hurt, you hurt. All parents know what I mean.
I know I should be nudging him forward, but my instincts, paired with my sometimes-crippling anxiety, brings out the protective mama bear in me, and I just want to be by his side, deflecting sadness and danger.
But I can’t! Not only is it impossible (we can’t possibly be everywhere at once) but it’s also not healthy. I don’t want to raise a nervous, clingy, anxious child. I really don’t want that for him.
Right now, I’m still working on finding the balance. REALLY working on it. But, the steps I’m taking are 1) letting him take more safe and calculated risks, which I know sounds like an oxymoron, but there is a way to do it; and 2) trying to teach him to think through his actions and imagine the possible consequences. He’s so young yet, but we talk through it. “If you ride your bike down the steps, what do you think might happen?”
Do you struggle with this too? What have you done to help find balance?