As a parent, I tend to be a little on the protective side. My father was a paramedic, my mother has worked at hospitals for as long as I can remember. I heard the stories. And I knew they were the censored versions of the stories.
Mr HJ moves before thinking.. a trait he unfortunately inherited from me. He is always covered in bruises. I've watched him somersault out of play equipment, base-jump off a jumping-castle slide (instead of sliding), and he's also put his teeth through his lips more than once (all of which were before the age of 3). His active, gorgeous - but sometimes unpredictable - nature often leaves me a little anxious.
And this anxiety has been on my heart and my mind quite a bit lately.
I don't want to be anxious for my children, I want to enjoy them. There is so much in this world we can worry about if we truly let ourselves go down that path. Most importantly, I don't want my children to have anxiety about the world that they live in. I know our children pick up on more than we could ever convey to them in words. I want to send them the right message. I want them to have confidence in themselves and their own ability. I want them to have wisdom, and the skills they to look after themselves. I am so incredibly aware that I - in my role as their mother - will influence, shape and mould all of those above things. If I am anxious about many of the things that they do, how will I truly show them that I have confidence in them?
I stumbled upon a great book, Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy, and although I don't agree with everything in her book, it definitely helped me to see how a lot of my parental anxiety was probably irrational. It helped me to see that being too over-protective would have many negative implications for my children - which was something that I had been suspecting for a while. I had to relax. I had to show my children I had confidence in them and their ability.
I still naturally lean towards the protective. Just the other day HJ was running in and out of the water at the beach. The surf was quite big. He is still only learning to swim. I wanted to tell him to stop. To come away. To come out. My husband thankfully could sense my anxiety and had the wisdom to tell me to calm down. HJ would be okay. We are right here and can reach him if he needs it. So instead I just watched. HJ's joy was huge. His whole face was beaming. He was just having so much fun. My initial reaction to stop him would have robbed him of that joy.
Sometimes its so hard to just let kids be kids, to let them do their thing. To let them make their mistakes, and learn from them. I know I just want to wrap my babies up in cotton wool and protect them from the world. But if I did, then sure they might not experience some of the hurt - but they would also miss out on a huge amount of joy.