life is messy

March 20, 2012

I am letting this happen.

Sometimes, you just have to let these things happen. There's nothing a bath and a broom can't fix when we're through. Dirt is good for the soul.

When I feel my TIDY MOM-RAGE© rising I force myself to stand to the side and ask, "Does this really matter? Does it really hurt anything if he throws all the toys on the floor? Can this be cleaned up, together, in less than ten minutes? LET IT GO." And I do. ...Mostly.

I turned down a different path when it dawned on me that not letting things be messy was truly doing him a disservice. It became a challenge towards some purpose greater than just a fun-day romp in the mud. There were other kinds of less-tangible messes I had been avoiding too, because it seemed easier for me to cut them off at the head.

There's a particular temptation to step in at the playground and micro-manage how the kids are interacting. Are you being nice? Are you sharing? The fun police are here helping you, making sure there isn't an unhappy word exchanged between our precious darlings. It won't be my kid who is rude to your precious darling.

It was (is, still) challenging for me as mom of one-and-only not to hover. I stifle my "be carefuls" and I try to pretend I'm looking at my phone rather than watching him like a hawk, and then I wonder what the other parents think that I'm not watching him and I don't know what to do. I wonder what the other parents think of me, sitting in the background not playing with my kid, but they don't know how hard I'm working at it, how difficult an operation it is for me to enact. Other parents seem to be able to do this with ease while I have to put my head down and work at it. It's a good problem to have, I guess, caring very much, but all things in equal measure.

What does he learn if I step in and intervene in every playground interaction? It took everything I had to start sitting back down on that bench. When I finally did it was as if an explosion went off in my brain and busted all the windows wide open. Alarm bells rang out– THIS IS IMPORTANT, what you're doing, right here. They are perfectly capable of figuring this out themselves, if you give them the opportunity to do it. How else are they going to practice? GO AWAY, JAMIE.

This is just a bunch of nonsense jumbled together about independence and the fact that I am not, strictly necessary all the time. Most of the time, anymore. It's getting easier, with practice, to let life be messy. In return the payoff is hopefully sending him a message: You can handle this on your own, I have full confidence in you. I'm your backup, if you need me, but you've got this.

I think that's probably worth ten minutes of cleaning after he goes to bed.

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