The other day, a friend of mine wrote a post on Facebook.
In it, she talked about the joy she felt while watching her little boy splash around in mud puddles. She continued on to talk about how so often as moms, we don’t let our kids do the messy things or the crazy things because we really want to mature them and get them to grow up. And then she tagged me in a comment and said, “Emily, maybe you should write a blog about this.”
And boy was she right.
And you know what? Not even really for the sake of all of you reading this. I needed to write this for me.
I have a really tough time letting my boys be little. I am the over-controlling, micromanaging, ready-to-launch-them mom. And even while I am grieving their lack of little-ness, I am simultaneously pushing them farther and farther ahead. I struggle with silliness. Noise drives me bonkers. You will rarely find me on the floor playing games or pretend play.
I became very aware of this about two years ago when my oldest was just two. I was newly married to my husband and we were in the throes of figuring out parenting together after my journey as a single teen mom. I would watch my husband get down on the floor and play trucks or puzzles or chalk and I would marvel at him. He would just be and play; no agenda, no timetable, and not checking the clock every minute to make sure he’d gotten his time in. He just did it. And I wanted that badly, but having that as the opposite of my natural bent, I struggled.
But as I started to learn and tried (failed, oftentimes) to meet his need of my time and investment, I began to see that it didn’t have to look the same for us as I expected it would. I could let him be little, and meet him in his littleness, in ways that worked for us.
Hear me mommas. You can let your kids be little, and meet them in their littleness, in ways that work for YOU.
We so often beat ourselves up for not doing what we think everyone else is doing. We throw stones back in our own faces with the comparison game. And if you’re anything like me, it can feel absolutely daunting to try to do anything that we think we’re “supposed” to do instead of what we want to do.
You know what I found out about us? We can have a mean dance party. We can dance around like fools to the best music and laugh and jump and play and sing. We can get all our crazy and wiggles out to some tunes, and then we all walk away feeling a little less wild (kiddos) and a little less on edge (me).
It is important to let our kids be little. It is important to let them experience the fun, crazy, messy things. But it’s also important to not lose ourselves in the process. Trust me, your kiddos would rather do something with you that you enjoy rather than something you’re forcing yourself to do. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t ever do things with our kids that we don’t like as much if they really love it, and that sacrifice can bring such blessing to you both! But if you spend your kids’ whole childhood trying and trying to be something you’re not, you’re going to miss out on a lot of the joys.
Give yourself some grace, mommas. Allow yourself some space to try new things with your kiddos while still being who you are. Your kids weren’t given to the mom on Instagram who you stare longingly at her photos of crafts with her kids, or the mom on Facebook organizing field trips and play dates and outings. If that’s not you, that is just fine. They don’t need those moms. They need you.