I was reading an interesting article over at the MOB Society yesterday about chores for boys. I’m not going to go into my chore philosophy, again, since our boys were doing of that list by the time they were 4–but I was particularly caught by some of the comments. Several mommas were discussing if mowing the lawn was too dangerous for 9-year-old boys. Since Mr. Fix-It just introduced the Ladybug to using our mower and she’s only 8, I know the fear.
When Mr. Fix-It lets one of the kids ride with him on the tractor–I know the fear.
When Mr. Fix-It lets one of the kids help with a project using power tools–I know the fear.
When he lets them hide in a cornfield, or turns them loose to play hide-and-seek in the woods–I know the fear.
When Mr. Fix-It lets the kids ride in the open bed of the truck while working around the farm–I know the fear.
I don’t think you would look at our lifestyle and immediately see it–I mean, we bought them bows and arrows for Christmas!–but I don’t know if I would be brave enough to let my crew out the front door in the morning if it wasn’t for my husband. The anxiety can be crushing. And I’ll admit that I probably struggle with this a little more than the average because I’m still traumatized by losing my parents so suddenly. But I really think all momma’s struggle with this fear…this challenge to let go…this drive to protect–to over protect–our loved ones.
But I’m committed to raising brave, confident children. I’m committed to letting go, letting them learn, letting them be vibrant and brilliant and strong. I’m committed to not holding them back from my fear. And I’m committed to letting my husband be a hands-on parent as well and not jumping between him and the kids just because he’s not doing things my way.
Here are some of the ways I’m learning to cope with those little daily fears, believe me, it’s an on-going process!
- Take a deep breath and PRAY! A lot of times I simply start praying for enough calm to think through a situation and not immediately lash out in fear. These are also the moments when I’ll find myself reciting memorized scripture to calm myself down.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
- Then THINK! Decide if you’re scared of the known, or the unknown. I don’t have any experience with tractors, ride-on mowers, ATVs, or most power tools until the last 10 years. There’s nothing in my family history to let me judge these farm-kid milestones by. Ask don’t accuse! Ask about boundaries. Ask about safety measures. Ask about past experiences. And ask gently! You don’t like to be accused of being a bad momma, so be careful that your husband or loved ones don’t feel like you’re accusing them of being a bad parent or caretaker. (Boy, have I learned this one the hard way!)
- Then PRAY! Yep, pray some more. Pray about what you’ve heard and pray about being calm and not afraid as you make a decision. Pray for guidance and discernment.
- Then DECIDE. Being open to new ideas and new experiences doesn’t mean completely abdicating your responsibility to guide and protect your children. Sometimes this is a split-second process and sometimes it takes time. Sometimes the decision is not so much to prevent something in the future as to stop something already in progress. But there’s still always time to take a deep breath, send up a prayer for guidance, and make a cool-headed decision.
- Walk Away! Sometimes even when you’ve decided, yes, it’s still hard to let go. If you’re so anxious you’re sucking all the fun out of the moment or simply can’t relax about it, walk away!
Over the years, I’ve learned to do this a lot. It used to drive me crazy the way Mr. Fix-It did bath time with the kids. Crazy! I didn’t think he was careful about getting water in their faces and I couldn’t stand the casual way he would turn away from the tub to reach for something–because of course, I gather all the supplies up first and put them right at my knees and never took my eyes and hands off of them! Then he would lift them from the tub with one arm when they were all slippery and dripping wet and I was sure he was going to drop them. Grrrr…
But the kids loved bath time with Daddy and he really loved getting to do that part of the day with them–and he was just as committed to their well-being as I am! I had to learn to simply walk out and let him do this parenting-thing his way. And by the time Speedracer came along, bath time was totally his domain and I had learned to enjoy using that time for other things myself!
These days it’s different fears, different worries, and different situations. Often I’ll pop out to the garage for some pictures and then go back in the house. Believe me, that’s better for all of us then having me stand out there constantly saying “be careful!” or “don’t touch that!” or “get back!” And often when I head back in the house, I’m reciting scripture, or a favorite hymn, or a well-worn prayer for peace to calm my poor, worried, momma-heart.
How do you find yourself coping with all the simple daily worries that come with motherhood?