Friday, August 22, 2014

Stepping back

I've been noticing lately that I've been feeling guilt creep into the way I've been doing things. My laid-back days and quiet contemplation at day's end have been permeated by a feeling that I have not been doing enough. I should have avoided the breakfast breakdown by coming up with better distractions. I should have anticipated Abby's sour mood after a late night. I should have come up with a better idea for lunch instead of scrambling while we all got hangry.

I wondered where that came from. I am usually pretty confident. Not because I know what I'm doing or have things all figured out, I certainly don't! I trust myself to do what's right, and do my best. That's all I can ask, and that's good enough. I understand when an undertaking is difficult (i.e. making it a whole day with four little girls under my watch), it doesn't mean I'm doing anything wrong. I believe that I act more out of love and understanding than I do out of anger and frustration (though that happens too, life's a balance!). But I need to let a few things go.

I was beginning to micro-manage them. I will always have room to improve when it comes to being kind and patient with myself, and I am learning in parallel to be patient and kind with the girls. But I think I need to step back a bit. They need to make mistakes. They need the freedom to make those mistakes. I can warn them once or 498 times not to run in the house, but they will anyway, and when they trip and fall it's not because I didn't stop them. It's because they are bound to fall eventually. I need to let them cry and whine when I am taking too long to make lunch (But not in the kitchen. We have a strict "no whining in the kitchen policy).

When I step back quietly and let them do most things on their own, they get there. If they scream in frustration and I am not in their field of vision, they calm themselves down much faster and then try again. (I'm sure I'm not the only one whose kids lose degrees of their independence when mama is around). I assess whether I am needed to encourage them, or whether it is best to slink away and let them conquer something on their own. 

I want to see that proud grin on their faces more often. I want them to believe in themselves. I want them to be my babies forever, yes, but when I take that selfish-indulgence out of the equation, I want them to soar. 

It's a criticism I hear often of our generation of parents: we are too indulgent of our children, we hover, we over-protect, we shield. We don't drop kids off at birthday parties anymore, we invite ourselves in. We don't let our kids play in the park unsupervised. We don't let them do anything unsupervised. And I'm aware of these criticisms. I try to foster their independence not to prove anyone wrong, but because I want them to feel capable and confident. 

I vow to put aside the guilt, those feelings that I should do more, be better, try harder, wear myself out and just trust that I am enough for them. Trust that they will learn by watching me. 

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