Ok, answer me this:
Do you kids follow you around constantly when you’re home? Hanging on your legs? Whining incessantly?
Do cries of “Mama! Mama! Mama!” fill your ears, even when you know they don’t actually need anything?
Do you find yourself stopping any task that you happen to be in the middle of to drop everything for their demands?
If so, you may find yourself in danger of entering:
The Helpless Child Zone.
Bear with me on this one. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately.
I work hard to try to be home as much as possible with my children, but the truth is…
Recently, they’ve been driving me nuts.
As in bonkers.
As in, I want to run to my room, lock the doors, crawl under the covers and sleep for a thousand years.
All daydreaming aside, I’ve been trying to pinpoint the source of my frustration, and it boils down to something like this:
I wonder if I do too much for my kids.
Now, I don’t mean this in a sense of providing too much for them, or loving them, or genuinely enjoying playing with them, but I do mean this in a sense that I feel that moms, especially those that stay home full or part-time, may fall prey to the trap of just being too much in their kids’ faces.
Let’s think about it.
How often do you remember your mom dropping everything to come play Barbies or blocks with you? Did you ever run to your mom and demand she give you ideas on how to play with your sister? Did you ever consult a packed schedule for your daily activities?
I thought long and hard about this, and I can’t remember a single instance of my mom sitting down and playing with us as kids. Granted, I’m sure she was more involved before my memory kicked in, but after that, we were just kids being kids. She was our mom, for crying out loud. It wasn’t cool to be attached to her. In fact, I distinctly remember instances when she would kick us outside and literally lock the doors on us so we had to stay out and play.
Yup. I only wish it hadn’t been winter at the time…
I’ve always believed in letting kids be kids. But I’m also committed to being home with my kids as much as possible, which I believed meant being with my kids 100% of the time, playing with them constantly, holding them every second of the day (because after all, they grow up soo fast, right? We only hear that 80,001 times a day…)
But lately, I’ve been thinking of trying out a new attitude. Trying a little bit harder to foster some independence in my children. To maybe not trying to run the second I hear a fight erupt. Or not feeling guilty when I say “Hold on a minute…” when I’m genuinely in the middle of something. To letting adult time be adult time…and teaching them that that’s ok.
I realize it will be hard. The balance of enjoying every minute of their small preciousness, as we are reminded of continually, but in the end, I do think we need to recognize that this is the first time in history that moms have been expected to “just” be at home, alone, with their children. Historically, moms didn’t have that kind of time. They’ve been combining work and family life since their menfolk first brought home some mighty mammoths to skin for the evening meal…
I honestly don’t think women are meant to live isolated lives of laundry and playing with their kids at home. I think we are designed to work, to interact with other mothers, to be ok with not being with our children 100% of the time.
But don’t take my word for it. Also see “Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids?”, a recent Huffington Post article that I swiped from my good friend Theresa.
So, here’s to raising our glasses of wine (for those of you who can drink the stuff, that is), ignoring the mess our children have created, and letting them run around with underwear on their heads. Just like we did when we were little. After all, we turned out ok…