The doubts and guilt as a mom can be overwhelming sometimes. Along the way, I’ve made the choices that I felt were the best at the time. But now as I see my son budding into a little man of three-and-a-half, I am feeling there’s at least one major area where I have failed so far.
Have I ruined his innate enthusiasm for physical challenges? Have I made him timid by overprotecting him? Or is it just his nature to wait until trying out things, to hesitate when others run full tilt, and to give up when something isn’t easy? I wonder this a lot.
Today we went to an outdoor festival where there were a few bounce houses. My son picked one to try, but failed to launch. He couldn’t climb up the first little ladder inside. As kids 2/3 his size piled past him, he tried to figure out how they were doing it, but he just hasn’t gotten the hang of climbing yet.
I think this may be my fault.
We did everything for our little boy, right from the start. When most toddlers are demanding to do things themselves, he asked us to do it for him. And we played along, rather than letting him face and overcome challenges.
We spoon fed him until he was three. By that point, baby number two was here, and something had to give. So now he will actually pick up a fork or spoon and get most of his food in his mouth by himself. (It still is hard for me to sit by and watch sometimes, because it feels he doesn’t eat enough if I’m not doing it for him! This is a problem I have to get over, right?)
I’m also overprotective when it comes to running and playing. I always called out a warning to be careful when he would run, and he would stop or slow down. I couldn’t take those times when he fell down and skinned his knee (or his nose) and punctured his lip. It seemed he got hurt just walking sometimes. I’m always talking about safety, and I’m afraid I’ve crippled his ability to enjoy pure running around like he should.
As he faces the start of preschool in five months, he knows he will have to do everything for himself. That includes putting on his own clothes, wiping his bottom after the potty, eating, and so on.
I cringe when I think of him climbing on the playground equipment without me there to spot him. He may get stuck at the top or even fall off.
In many ways, it’s a good thing I’m not going to be there.
I have to let go and let him learn to climb, to run, to slip and fall and get up again… I think it’s going to be harder for me than for him. And I just hope it’s not too late for him to enjoy it.