Motherhood is often challenging.
For me, some of the hardest challenges involve some sort of letting go of my children when they are ready for new challenges before I am.
Every day I practice to let go and help my children take more responsibility adjusted to the age they have. They thrive when they feel that they can overcome something they couldn’t maybe just a month before. Their eyes light up. And they are so proud. And I love it.
However, it is not always easy. Sometimes I feel I need so much strength not to roll out the red carpet and quickly solve a problem for them that they are ready to solve themselves. We call those kinds of parents “curling parents”, because they bounce all sorts of challenges in front of their children instead of teaching them how to solve problems themselves. Those parents end up writing their children’s first job applications and complete paralyze their children.
Other times I radiate so much fear myself that I completely discourage my girls to believe in themselves. If they see fear in my eyes, they feel fear themselves. Our energy affects our children all the time.
It’s a fine balancing act that often challenges me.
When I stand on that thin line, I have many choices. Here are three of them:
1. I can pull us both back ashore and sit and wait, wait, wait until I am ready. But I’m just not a “waiting type”, and my kids are trapped while I become ready.
2. I can focus so much on the risks that I end up tipping over into fear. But I do not like to tip over and parenting from fear rarely brings our the best mom in me.
3. I can also choose to JUST breathe, refocus, and help my child to step out on the line by looking her in her eyes and saying: “I believe in you, honey. You can do it”.
And then the art of motherhood is to keep that focus….breathe, breathe and breathe some more… until she has finally come to shore on the other side, and my phone delivers a text message with the words “I made it. I did it, mom <3 <3 <3 “ – which always triggers a small relieved breath and fills my eyes with proud tears of joy. Both on behalf of my daughters’ success and because I managed to let go.
Each time yet another challenge is mastered, my daughters get more roots in their own lives. Roots to stand on, next time they face a new challenge. Roots that will support them in the storms of life and make it easier for them to keep their balance. To me, that is SO beautiful!
Mindfulness training helps me to understand and notice what I’m focused on. For instance, am I parenting to help them face their challenges or am I parenting out of fear?
And if I don’t like my focus, I can change it. I do it through breathing, believing, and helping.
So next time you find yourself holding your child back from new challenges because you are not ready to let go, just breathe and reflect on whether you are transmitting your fears onto your child or you’re actually helping your child to face the challenges of life, by letting your child face more and more challenges on her own.
You could also ask “am I serving my child” or “am I helping” and reflect a bit on the difference.
In this way we try to become mindful and try to shift our attention from a focus on “the fear of what might happen” to “the joy when our child succeeds”.
I practice … and I breathe… and I practice… and I breathe…
Go to www.roomforreflection.com to see more on how your energy as a parent affects your child on a daily basis – especially at bedtime.