File it under “Things I’ve Had to Get Used to as a Parent.”
That’s a pretty thick folder.
Spending time outside is a way of life. This wouldn’t be a problem except I hate to sweat, can’t deal with bugs, and feel my skin sizzling to a nice red crisp within .10 seconds of being exposed to daylight.
My kids, of course, love it. Hadley adores being in her stroller and swinging the hours away. Ollie, too, loves running around like a nut, getting good and sweaty, and catapulting himself down the slide.
Well, “catapulting” is a little strong. Much to his anxious mother’s relief, Oliver is a pretty cautious kid. He doesn’t leap from couches or reach out to hot stoves. My three-year-old takes me at my word when I tell him something is “dangerous,” and one of the first two-word phrases he strung together was “be careful!”
I struggle often with the push/pull of my anxiety and letting my children be children. What constitutes a legitimate danger, and what is simply a normal part of growing up? It takes all my willpower — a lot of willpower — not to shadow my kids like the proverbial monkey on their back. I’m glad that Oliver runs around at “school” without me, because I don’t think I could handle seeing him on monkey bars.
We went to the playground yesterday, and it was the first time I spent most of my time on the ground instead of squeezing myself into child-sized spaces. Oliver climbed a kid-friendly rock wall and went down a tall slide. Without me.
It was a big moment.
Anxiety confuses and deceives you, making everything feel like a fight-or-flight situation. Being a parent has meant I must get used to stepping back and letting my kids get dirty and sweaty and potentially bruised.
I don’t like it. It goes against my very nature. But I can step outside my nervousness and realize that “protection” is an illusion. No one can be protected all the time.
All we can do is be there to guide them.
And remain a soft place to land.