Moms… Let your children fall – yes, I mean this literally, and figuratively. I know that I may incite anger in saying this, but I need to say something.
I get it, the real world is hard, and the initial instinct to protect and shield is all-encompassing, but you are not preparing them for anything if you don’t allow them to make mistakes. There will be a day where your little bird will have to spread their wings and fly on their own.
The hard truth is – you will not always be able to be there to catch them if they fall.
It took about 7 months to conceive my first son. He was a dream come true. From the moment the test read “pregnant” I was bursting with joy. There was a complication. I had a condition called placenta previa that typically rectifies itself as the pregnancy progresses. Mine did not do so quite as quickly as we would have hoped. My activity was drastically reduced. I wasn’t allowed to exercise, had to limit my walking and running, we had to move downstairs as the trek up and down on a daily basis became treacherous rather than routine.
I see so many amazing children – smart, bright, vibrant flowers that wilt and whither at the sign of anything difficult. Yes, we are in an age of technology, an era of information, but that does not mean that the world will not eat our children up and spit them out. Google does not have all the answers.
Through all of this, Google and the fonts of information that were my family members in the medical profession did nothing to ease my nerves. I did what I could – I journaled, rather than read about the multiple “worst case scenarios” of mothers bleeding out and perishing during delivery. I wrote letters for every day that I had my son within me on the off chance that the worst would happen. That way he would have some way of knowing me, despite my lack of being there.
It was important to me, even then, that he never be dependent on someone or something else in this world of pervasive technology. That he be able to take advantage of the blessing that is hard work. Too many times I have seen my students take the easy way out, and balk at the idea of studying or getting things done in a timely fashion.
In these letters I told him to learn how to wash his laundry, cook his own meals and how to manage his money. I wanted him to never be afraid of being alone, and to know two things – I would always love him, and if there is something he faced that was difficult, he should never quit – just try harder.
This world is not a kind one. At school if a student misbehaves, talks back or gets in a fight, they get sent to in school suspension. In the real world they are fired, receive a citation or get incarcerated. Are there exceptions? Of course there are, but not everyone is an exception. As parents we ready our children for these harsh realities, and by not allowing them to fail we are not preparing them adequately.
Luckily for Dean and me the worst did not come to pass, but my little guy came early. He was like a small bird, thin, delicate and frail; he resided in the NICU for his first three weeks of life. I was so scared. I had no need for my fear. “The Olmeda boy” would get angry with his IVs and rip them out every time they were placed within reach. He became known as the “baby with the attitude,” his single cocked eyebrow and frown of disapproval put The Rock to shame.
Life is not always a series of open doors and cries of how wonderful a person is. There are days that are pure wonder and happiness, and days where doors are slammed, cruel words and harsh critiques are spat and tears cloud our vision. Yes, we need to nurture and encourage, but not at the price of our children’s ability to cope with life’s inevitable mishaps or disappointments.
Dean just turned four earlier this week, is taller than most of his class at daycare and loves tee ball. Was he the best on his team? No. Did I tell him that he was the best? No. When he struggles I try to allow it to play out. Does that mean that his father and I don’t jump in at times to help? No, and disagreements often arise at the amount of “help” he is given (or not given).
For the most part he is learning that sometimes life is great, fun, and full of hugs. But sometimes, life can be hard. His team may not always win, he may not always be the best, and he may fall. His mantra? “Never say you can’t. You just try harder.”
That’s my boy.
Get ready world. This bird may stumble and fall, but he will get up. Those bruised wings will spread wide, and he will soar.