I have this irritating habit (say once or twice a week) of waking up in the middle of the night irrationally worried about a million things that happened or didn’t happen with Leni the day before. Things totally out of my control. Odd moments from yesterday whose outcome were almost always positive or definitely ok at the very least. The thought process being along the lines of what if those moments went all kinds of wrong instead?
What if the babe ran into traffic when you let her run ahead a bit on the (fenced in) path (with very little road access)? What if you hadn’t been there when she climbed too high at the park and she fell? What if someone snatched her when you were digging through the bag to find her snacks? Why couldn’t you just keep your cool when she was making that screechy noise over and over? What if she fell off your shoulders (even though it has never happened)? Like, I’m talking really ridiculous absurd things that in the light of day are clearly just that.
At 3am, however, after waking up to pee or after the peanut has woken up screaming for her “dooda” (her word for water), well, I feel like the worst of the worst. I lie back down in bed and all these bizarre retroactive fears creep up in my belly and dance around in my brain making it pretty hard to get back to sleep. I’m so tired today, you guys.
Am I alone in this silliness? I remember often finding my mum up in the middle of the night sitting on the couch and I now wonder if it was related. I asked her today and she told me when we were a bit older, she’d get up to make sure we were all home safe. I actually don’t know if I’d ever sleep again with four kids like her.
I try to find this balance between letting Leni explore while keeping a close eye on her, which I’m still figuring out. I’ve made it a priority to allow her some space with the comfort of knowing I’m never far. Most likely she just has to turn her head to find me. But I’m not always looming over everything she does, even though there’s a part of me that would like be fused to her indefinitely.
Recently I’ve come up against a real issue with her listening though. Asking her to stop or freeze when she’s gone too far usually results in her little legs moving quicker while she giggles like it’s the most hilarious game. And she is getting fast, I tells ya. Have I mentioned she’s two? I hear this isn’t the best age for listening. So I’m navigating that, too.
When I was just 5 or 6 years old, my best friend Cait and I would go off for hours on our bikes or rollerblades. Hours. I even remember us taking her hamster, Harry, with us in a fanny pack sprinkled with seeds on one of those days. True story. There were no cell phones nor was there any direct way to contact us. Once, when we went out too long our parents did drive around the neighbourhood searching for us. That didn’t end well for us, as you might imagine. For the most part, though, I remember having a fair bit of freedom. But that was just how it was. I’m not sure what’s changed, but I very much doubt I’ll be ok with my kids going off alone like that so young. In fact, chatting with my mum about it, she agreed. Even she feels like that would be too risky now.
Having said that, I’d like my little to know how to make her own adventures and I can’t help but feel that it starts now in small ways. Encouraging her to run (when it’s safe); giving her enough leeway to test out her climbing skills (while I’m close enough to help if need be); letting her choose what equipment she’d like to use in the playground; not diving down to rescue her every single time she has a tumble. In those moments, I’ve made a conscious decision to put aside my instinct to fix and control everything, instead allowing her to figure things out on her own (even on a very minor level).
I sometimes think parenting is slowly learning to let our kids grow and become their own people separate from us. So I guess it’s also teaching me to very very very slowly do that too. God it feels crazy to talk about this when L’s still so tiny, but there you have it. That there’s some light o’ the moon thinking. It’s a long term plan, see? Baby steps over, say, the next 25 years or so.
Parenting is never black and white, is it? No matter how deliberate I am about my decisions as a parent, I still have so many worries and doubts.
Particularly at three in the morning.
I’m currently reading Discipline Without Damage by Dr. Vanessa Lapointe (thanks Nicole!) because while I want Leni to have some freedom, I also need her to actually listen to me, especially when it comes to safety. Looking for a little guidance. My sister Erin has also prescribed Toddlers Are Assholes: It’s Not Your Fault by Bunmi Laditan as an amusing antidote when the guilts hit.
So that’s what I’ll be reading by the glow of my Kobo tonight. Well, possibly. Let’s hope not.