That was my first mistake.
I blinked and my babies are gone. In their place are two children. Two individuals with their own interests, opinions and personalities.
It’s time for me to let go a little.
I’m not a helicopter parent by any stretch. But I’m not exactly free-range either. I like to think that I’m a nice blend with a tad too much in the “runs out of patience” bucket.
I need to step back a little and let them come a bit into their own.
As parent, we influence EVERYTHING our kids do, EVERYTHING they think. But our children aren’t simply a smaller version of mom or dad, and that’s something all parents struggle with.
Sometimes we expect them to automatically be like us, to want the same things, be interested in similar activities and when they aren’t, we take it personally.
Take a deep breath.
Let them fly a little. See where they land.
I need to do a better job at picking my parenting battles. I’ve said this since my toddler first yelled “NO” at the top of their lungs. But now, more than ever, I need to decide what matters most to me. My children are coming into their own and I need to be okay with that.
One area where I’ve had to step back is selecting what they wear each day. It seems so incredibly minor in the grand scheme of things but it’s actually a pretty big deal – for them and for me. I’ve selected their outfits for so long that it came as a bit of an affront to me when they no longer liked my options. (I always give options.) But what they wear allows them to show off who they are and what they want to be.
Take the first day of school. It’s about first impressions and setting the stage for a good year. Yes, it’s probably bullshit. If they are a sweet kid dressed in their favorite ratty t-shirt and pilled athletic shorts, their teacher should love them just the same. But for whatever reason, it’s a sticking point for me. (Actually, I’m pretty sure this stems from it being important to my mom as well!)
But I’ve had to let go. Now I only “own” two school days – the first day and picture day. They can wear whatever they want the rest of the school year and I won’t say a word. (Ok, I try really hard not to say to say a word. Sometimes I fail.) But I get final approval of those two outfits. Most of the time, that’s okay with the kids. Again, I give options and they still have a choice. It’s not dictated, but we all come away happy.
My children are six and eight. They are no longer babies, but far from grown. Yet they ARE growing up and becoming their own persons. They know what they like and what they don’t. They know how they feel.
I need to make sure I’m listening. I need to make sure I’m paying attention.
The parenting battles I face are changing and they are going to keep changing through each stage of childhood. I know the biggest battles are ahead of me. I know that sometimes I’m going to have to stand my ground and be the parent. I also know that sometimes it’s just not going to be worth the fight.
So deep breath, here I go, loosening my grasp, one finger at a time.