Stepping Back

Yesterday I was browsing some other blogs that I enjoy, and came across one that some of you might like.  It can be found at “mommysaidaswearword.wordpress.com”

This morning she had a blog about hunting which was great, but the one that really spoke to me is called ‘Stepping Back’.  She posted it on March 14. 

In her story she shares some details about the time her toddler got her head stuck in a lawn chair.  Now if you know my twisted sense of humor you probably already know that I giggled a little at that image.  I have seen it happen here too, and for that brief second before panic sets in, I have giggled at the expense of my sons, daughter, nieces and nephews before rescuing them from the offending chair, or swing set, or whatever thing they have their arm, leg or head stuck in.

Her story goes on to tell us that her instinct was to rush over and yank the kid out of the chair.  This would be my reaction also…after my little giggle at the poor kid’s misfortune.   However, her husband’s reaction was to remain calm and to show the little girl how to free herself.  What a great idea!

I know that my need to rescue everyone from every situation doesn’t leave anybody feeling like they can take care of themselves.  As our kids get older, knowing that nothing really matters because Mom will swoop in and rescue them when they: run out of money, sleep through the alarm, run out of gas, lose their phone, can’t make a plan, can’t operate a broom, don’t know how to wipe the counter, have run out of clean laundry, can’t find their socks, don’t know how to make a sandwich…..leaves mom a little stressed out and breathless and they haven’t learned how to take care of these situations on their own.

For moms like me, we need to have that gentle reminder that it won’t be the end of the world if they sleep through their early English class,  or if they can’t go out because they forgot to work and earn money.  It won’t kill them to walk to the nearest gas station for fuel, and who cares if they wear no socks or if they don’t have a lunch for one day.

A lot of Dads have a different approach to these scenarios.  It’s like there was a Dad class somewhere that Moms weren’t invited to. 

If our kids were to ask their Dad where their socks are, (and they never do), his response would be ‘I don’t know’…and he would go back to drinking coffee and reading the paper.

If they ask Mom where their socks are, it’s like a full on red alert.  Get up and check the dryer, look through the unfolded towels, under the beds, behind sofas…and sometimes find them folded in their drawer.  No one would think to look there!  The reason for the bustling around is because of this perception:  If my kid arrives at his early English class one half hour late wearing no socks – guess who feels judged….Not him.  And not his Dad.

Last night I heard my husband talking on the phone to our oldest son who is away at college.  I overheard him asking what he was doing, followed by “you know, you’ve been pretty sick with that cold for a while now, maybe you should take it easy.”  I was happy hearing that Dad was encouraging our son to take a break and relax a bit.  Then I heard “if you haven’t been eating properly for a while you should go buy some vitamins and some of that Boost meal replacement stuff.”  WHAT!?!  If you know me you know that I strongly endorse home cooked meals made with whole ingredients, little to no preservatives, with lots of raw fruits and veggies.  Boost meal replacement is for old people who can’t eat because they have no teeth.  Even then, only if they have no one to make them some nice mashed potatoes and peas with free range chicken gravy!

However, reflecting on the idea of stepping back, I realize that Dad has been a boy in college and I haven’t.  Dad realizes that there’s little to no chance that this kid is going to be chopping veggies and making a stir fry in the communal dorm kitchen.  He will however, be charming someone else into doing that for him when he can.  Perhaps his charm has run out in that particular dormitory and he will have to resort to drinking Boost for the remaining month of school.  Gross.  No offense to the makers of Boost, but Gross.  I should admit that I have never tried it, it might be lovely and delicious.  However, I have seen the faces of people who are drinking it, and it wasn’t a great endorsement.  It was funny, it made me laugh, but it didn’t make me want to try it.

However, maybe one slurp will encourage my son to buy an apple.

Our youngest son graduates from High School this year.  He is unsure of what his plan is for next year.  This could be because I haven’t told him yet.  It might be because I haven’t fully researched every possibility available to him and cross referenced it with what his skill set and interests are. Perhaps it’s time for me to step back and let him take care of this one.  I can hear him sighing with relief if he reads this.

While our boys are knee deep in muck trying to find their own paths, our darling daughter looks like the proverbial ‘golden child’ as she sails effortlessly through elementary school.  This is probably because she’s the third, and therefore the less intensely parented one.  She is the perfect case study for this new theory on stepping back.  When our boys were in grade 6, I was worried about their advancing to Junior high, and all that this would bring.  I had met with their new principals and had made sure that their transition would be smooth. 

It has crossed my mind that our daughter is going to Junior High next year, but I think we may have missed the parent meeting and the school tour.  She’ll be fine.

I know for a fact that her life will change dramatically next year.  Not so much because she will be in Junior High, but more because she will likely be the only child living here with her parents….the only one we will have to focus on….buckle your seatbelt honey, because we are about to take notice of every move you make.  It’s going to be great fun, I have no doubt.

So today is a new day!  Heads up to all of my kids’ teachers and grandmas and who ever else they might bump into.  They may not be wearing socks.  They will likely be late.  Our college boy could possibly be alternating drinking Beer with shots of Boost in an attempt to stay healthy.  Our youngest son might be busking outside the highschool for lunch money.  However, he will have the space and the freedom to see the road ahead of him and to be able to make choices that are in line with his own beliefs and ideals of what will make his future a happy one. 

And I will be drinking coffee and reading the paper with their Dad.  From our vantage point a few steps back, we will be supporting our kids, helping them when they need it and knowing that whatever they decide for their lives will be right for them and that they are capable and amazing individuals. 

Unless they get their heads stuck in a lawn chair.  Just as soon as I’m done laughing I will run over there and rescue them.

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”   – Elizabeth Stone

<Terra>

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One response to “Stepping Back

  1. Great quote on the weekend from Shawnee Harle, coach of the U of C Dinos Womens Basktball team, ” In order to step up, somebody has to step back.”

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