07 December 2009

Letting it all go

Sometimes, the best way to be a good mom is to be a little laissez faire.

For most moms, the natural instinct is to hover. We want to protect our kids from any accident that might find them as they make their way in the world. I learned early on in my mothering career that while it was my instinct to try to protect Zack from the world, the best thing for him would be to let him "run" free.

As a toddler, this meant letting him explore the playground equipment without me trailing him up and down the slides. As a preschooler, this meant letting him do his own art projects, no matter what the finished product might look like. I saw parents drive themselves crazy with worry following their kids around the playground, up the ladders, around the sandbox, all around the obstacles. The kids learned to fear the challenges that are intended to be fun for them. Seeing their parents' fear led to reluctance to explore and try things.

Like any mother, I hate to do laundry and clean up after everyone, but I have forced myself to let that hang-up go. Letting the kids run and play and get dirty lets them grow up as independent confident kids.

Years ago, I heard a teacher say that if the day ends with the child needing a bath, it must have been a great day. I took that to heart and just take a deep breath as the four boys head outside to the mud.

See the pictures of  Dwight, above, as an example. What should I do? Make him stay in? He had a wonderful time and will probably remember these days when he's older. What does a stained coat mean in the scheme of things when a child makes memories like these?