Two posts ago, when I wrote about decorating for Christmas with a toddler in the house, I mentioned another topic that has been popping up in life often lately- that we, as parents, often hold our children back.
The first time that concept appeared was about 2 months ago when Roman was 14 months and was still enjoying one bottle of milk after waking up. I know at a year babies can/should be weaned from the bottle, and he was only having this one, but I was dreading the tears and complaints that would come when I took it away. It's not nice to subject Mommy to that kind of tantrum before the coffee has had a chance to kick in. But I needed to stop procrastinating and do it.
So I called my girlfriend and asked her to check in with me in about 4 days and kick me in the pants if I hadn't done it yet. There's nothing like some friendly
I decided to start the process on a Thursday, figuring it would take about 3-4 days, since that's how long it takes for babies/toddlers to establish a new habit. On morning #1 I woke up, prepared to withstand crying, tears, pleas, etc....and got nothing. He asked once, I said "No bottle, all done." and handed him a cup of milk with a straw and he was over it.
The second morning I just handed him his milk and he happily went on with his morning. Are you kidding me!??! I'd start a war if someone tried to take my coffee from me in the morning!!!!! In disbelief I called my girlfriend, the one I had called to mentally prepare me the day before, and told her that I had put off doing something for 2 months that took NONE of the effort I was expecting. To which she said, "Lauren, you have just learned one of the biggest lessons of motherhood: WE are often the ones who keep our children from doing things, or who create so much drama around an event. Learn from this. You're going to see people doing it over and over." And I have thought about that many times since our conversation that day. Roman didn't care at all that his morning treat was exchanged for another form of the same. It was me. I had kept both of us from the change, subjecting myself to more bottle washing!
This concept of parents being the ones to hold our children back from change/growth/lessons has been creeping up everywhere from the decision Jerry and I made to decorate our house for Christmas the way we wanted, to my Mom's Book Club yesterday that found several mothers sharing experiences of the same kind. It's easy to do! You just get going down the path you're on and suddenly you find yourself still cutting pizza for your 6-year old to eat because you never considered the fact that they were able to pick it up and eat it about 2 years ago!
I want to be the mom that pushes my kids. That encourages them to eat their cereal without my help, even though it's going to be messy for a while, because they can totally handle that task on their own. I want to let my children help with chores even though it makes them take longer because I understand that the lesson is more important than the completion of the task at hand. I want to have patience and understand that teaching as we live life side-by-side is the most effective way of instruction. And I don't want to put all the glass ornaments high on the tree so they don't get broken before I've given Roman a chance to see what he's capable of handling.