Tuesday, October 30, 2012


  I want the kids to do things for themselves. I really, really do. If they don't learn to put socks on by themselves they'll end up living in my basement, making messes and never running the vacuum. I can imagine how dramatically different our mornings will be when they make their own lunches and breakfasts and can clean up without making the "clean" version look worse than the original dirty that was already there.

But honestly, there are times when the words, "I want to do it myself!" terrify me. When Dominic says, "I want to cut the chicken with a knife! By MYSELLLLLLLLF!" That's scary.

And then there are the times when "doing self" is simply exasperating. We're already late so waiting for a kindergartener to painstakingly squeeze the perfect amount of toothpaste on her Firefly toothbrush (blue! not the red one!) is akin to agony. I know she should be encouraged to take care of her own oral hygiene, but we're LATE. 

Everyone with older kids keeps saying it's critical to do chores side-by-side so your progeny learns responsibility and the value of pitching in. Ok. Fine. But when I am scrubbing the toilet with the toilet brush and Dominic comes in and declares, "Oohhhhh!!! I wanna do it!!!" I'd rather be doomed to be his cleaning woman forever than to watch him brandish that sopping, toilet-grime covered brush.

When I think about Gianna, semi-grown-up, driving herself places....I kinda want to hit up Brad's Advair.

There has to be some happy medium between not letting your 16 year old ride their bike a couple blocks to the library and letting the same kid circumnavigate the globe in a sailboat

To be honest, I want to believe I lean more to the sailboat side of things. After all, for most of history teenagers have been treated as adults. Alexander the Great was 16 when he first led an army; Cleopatra was 18 when she became the queen of Egypt. Teens used to get married and have babies and work and not be on TeenMom. It was life, and in many parts of the world, that is still how it goes down. But their childhood! I know. I know. We have quite a luxury in this country, to basically extend childhood well into our early 20's. But I wonder sometimes what good that has done.

Others have written more profoundly and well-researched opinions about the importance of those in their teens years being given meaningful work, all I can say is that they are on to something. I want to raise my children so that when they enter their teen years they are ready for adulthood. How to do that in this culture, I don't exactly know.

Motherhood is such a paradox. My job is to form them and guide them into little mensches which means allowing them to goof up and get dirty and maybe a little hurt but every fiber of my being wants to keep them close and bubble-wrapped. It's almost super-natural, to help them grow up but not too quick, cuddle them but not coddle them, protect them but not make them soft.

I can see how behind the fears there is the good. Allowing our littles to venture out when they are ready sends a message that we are confident in them. That while we worry we are also assured that they can navigate this wild and interesting world. I was so nervous when I took my little two-and-a-half year old Gianna to school for the first time. She was so little, it was never our plan for things to happen that way. But now I see that because we pushed through the fears to what we knew would be best for her, she has the confidence that she can do anything a hearing person can do.

  Maybe sometimes we have to embrace what is scary so we can get to the good stuff.


  1. Yes! Being scary is not the worst thing a something can be.

  2. love it! I think every mother has to find her comfort zone and that of her child's. My oldest would still let me dress him. He is fearful of new things and people. So, the fact that he goes to his co-op class alone now is HUGE. My 2nd child would go to China without me, so for her it's all about teaching her to recognize the danger in certain situations. I really want my kids to travel and experience life. I do think it is a great idea for teenagers to have lots of responsibility. When I was 13 I was waking up before dawn to help my dad on the farm. Because of that, no job has ever seemed "hard" to me.
    Well, this has become a rambling comment. Anyway, I totally agree!!

  3. It is tough! And especially when you and your husband come from different family experiences. My husband was dropped off at college - which he had to work and pay for himself - and his parents went to Africa (FIL is military). I went to college in town, which my parents paid for and financially supported me during those 4.5 years. They wanted me to focus on school and not stress and worry about being able to pay my tuition. Side note: I became a resident advisor for 3 years...so my room/board were paid for, my contribution after realizing how easy I had it. And my 'work' wasn't all that bad...hanging out in a dorm with students my age. Two totally different experiences...I do feel like I had it easy at times. To add more...being a former elementary teacher, I see the kids who are babied and coddled and it doesn't do them a lick of good. The more successful and responsbile students were the ones who parents put guardrails up, but let them drive - so to say. The kids knew their boundaries and cause/effect. If they messed up, they were held accountable. Those parents weren't making excuses for their kids. Ok, wow...that was rambling. But you're totally right about the toothpaste thing....sometimes it is easier for us to do it!

  4. Beautifully put. Really like the cuddle but not coddle image :)

  5. Having a 15 yr old I am facing scary on a near daily basis. This is when the years (that fly by) of putting your everything into being mom, being present, being connected, being (dare I say) attached, come in mighty handy. When you have a teen who seeks your advice, and values your opinion, and who you know thoroughly, you can face the scary with less trepidation. At least that's what I'm saying this week :)