“Don’t catch me, Mommy!” my three-year-old exclaimed as I reached for him.
He was busy bounding up and down the bleacher steps at his Daddy’s baseball game last night. Happy and confident, he was taking such pleasure in the loud “boom” the metal planks made with each exaggerated step that he took. He was having a most wonderful time.
I, on the other hand, was watching with bated breath. My insides clenched with anxiety with each move he made, as I just waited for him to fall. My mommy instincts were in full effect, and I swooped in to rescue him. I reached out for his hand.
“Don’t catch me, Mommy!”
With those words I was jolted into a reality check. With all good intentions, I was trying to protect him in a moment he did not need to be protected. From a fall that may or may not happen. He was being brave and exploring and learning how to navigate the bleachers (and the world) independently. He was fine, and as usual it was my own insecurities causing me to act.
This moment was so illuminating to me. As parents we often struggle with finding balance when it comes to sheltering our kids. We want them to learn and grow, but we struggle with the possibility of seeing them get hurt. We know that we need to let go just a little bit, but it is so hard to do. A parent’s greatest fear is seeing their child hurt, and it’s so natural to want to prevent that from happening. But that’s not always what is necessary.
Hearing my child verbalize this really hit me. This simple directive from his tiny mouth made me think. Made me reevaluate my actions. Made me step back and just let him be.
And, he was right.
He was just fine. Yes, he stumbled a little bit, but picked himself right back up and continued marching. Just as I would have hoped he would do. Both on the bleachers and in life.
So, I will try my best to keep his advice in mind as I continue to clumsily navigate parenthood. I will continue working to find my balance and to not just swoop in to catch my children when I’m the one who is nervous.
But, my darling kiddos, if you ever need me, you better believe I will be here waiting with my arms outstretched.
*This post originally appeared on the author’s website.