Being Brave

Some days require kids and parents alike to take a deep breath and put on a brave face, ready to take on a world full of changes or first steps in a new direction.  Days like the first day of school, big doctor’s appointments, and making new friends require an extra squeeze or hand hold, and can be difficult for everyone involved.  But some days only require bravery for Mom or Dad, as their little ones embark on new adventures courageously and enthusiastically and we’re the ones left needing our hands held.

For example, any day that requires taking three children near a body of water alone, even if the water is only knee-deep.  While the kids luxuriate in literally exploring new territory–territory that was below much deeper water earlier in the summer but thanks to sunny days is now basically a wading pool–Mom stands on the sidelines, reminding herself that such exploration is good for them, and that a giant sinkhole will not in fact open up beneath them and swallow them whole before her eyes.  On high alert, while letting the distance of their orbit increase beyond normal boundaries for the sake of autonomy, Moms and Dads sometimes just have to sit back and watch, and to some degree, be brave.

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In some ways, being a helicopter parent is so much easier; your adrenaline isn’t nearly as high due to the fact that you are confident you are secretly a ninja and could use your body as a human shield should crisis arise.  Although it is mentally exhausting to be on duty 24 hours a day, it may be less frightening than watching your kids walk across the river for the first time to THE OTHER SIDE, MOM!  LOOK!  WE DID IT!  But if you take that route, how will they ever know the thrill of adventure, the pride in accomplishing something they were literally never capable of doing before?

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While being a mom is so much about keeping kids healthy and safe, there’s also something even healthier about teaching them how to make safe choices and to let them take a risk.  Of course, calculated risks with safeguards to ensure their safety, but the kids don’t need to know that.  They won’t feel quite so accomplished if we point out that their accomplishment wasn’t that big a deal in the first place.  To them, that wading pool is a rushing river, and to courageously reach the other side, where only Daddy’s skipping rocks could reach before, is an enormous achievement, and should be applauded as such.

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Sometimes being a mom means being a cheerleader on the sidelines of an ever-increasingly scary world, but we all have to be brave sometimes.

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Raising kids who savor life and all its challenges is worth it the stress, but it’s not always easy for us to be the brave ones!  Baby steps aren’t just for little ones–sometimes Mommy and Daddy need them, too.

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