Here’s a little known fact: I’m a control freak. Shocker, right? When it comes to a task–big, small, or seemingly insurmountable–I need to be in charge. Yes, I am the girl who was both loved, and hated, when it came to group projects in school.
Give it to me; I’ll do everything.
As the old adage goes, if you want something done right, do it yourself. I firmly believe that, and have for the last thirty plus years. Being a strong, independent, single mom, I can–for the most part–maintain my strong grasp on being a classic overachiever. From laundry, to dishes, to small home repairs, I’m good. Give me a hammer, a paint brush, an electric drill, and some measuring tape, and I’m good to go on most things home.
Electrics? No. Plumbing issues? Not a chance. Crawling around in my attic? Um, hells to the no. That place is creepy. And there are spiders.
Everything else, good. Use a shovel? Great. Hang some pictures? Not a problem. Clean the garage? Lay sod? Tear out bricks? I’ll sweat, but I’ll live. Done, done, and done.
My way, my house, my rules; I know what’s best.
Enter my almost four year-old son, whose mom has been doing everything for him for the last three and a half years. Overnight–okay, it’s been a nearly four year process–he has decided to stand his ground. He is bossy, he is opinionated, and he wants to do everything his way. On his terms. By himself. Sans Mom.
He is no longer a baby, he is a big boy, and his mommy needs to grow a set of eyeballs, and notice his abilities.
Insert snaps, and a head bob here.
My son is growing up. He’s practically the size of a five year-old, and just as mentally adept. He believes in his potential to carry out tasks by himself, so I, in turn, have to learn to let go of my tight grip on structure. In order to afford him the ability to learn independence, I need to open my own eyes, and see his worth. He’s getting older, he wants to understand how things are done, and he is beginning to know the feeling of pride, and accomplishment.
I need to be the facilitator of not only his creativity, but his self-sufficiency.
There needs to be a new balance in our world–one that allows him to do something without the dreaded Mommy Hover.
As a parent, certain aspects of daily life become rote. Whether it’s to get the job done, in a fast, efficient manner, or to sidestep a meltdown. Somewhere along the way, though, we are forced to take a step back, and let our children fend for themselves. Guided learning becomes independent ability. And independence breeds success.
My own Tiny Tot exerts his autonomy through bold declarations. Statements such as, “No, Mommy! I want to do it! I can do it! See? I told you I could do it!”
The minute I hear myself say, “No, son; Mommy will do it,” I realize what I have done. I begin to take away my child’s ability to control his daily life, by announcing that my way is the only way a task can be completed. Emperor Mommy, Queen of the Household.
What an idiot I am!
Over the course of the next few days, I started to focus on the idea of letting go. My new job is to allow my child to grow in his achievements. Yesterday, I let my tiny human pour himself a bowl of oatmeal. Sure, most of the flakes ended up on the countertop, and a few sprinkled the floor, but Tiny Tot was beaming from ear to ear. He was proud of himself–and I was proud for him. Who knew that success could be found in the ability to make breakfast?
It’s amazing what I learn when I allow my child to assert himself.
No, I’m not about to let my child pour his own milk, and I still will not let him play with a pair of scissors–though his preschool teaches that skill–but if he wants to help Mommy in her daily chores, I’m learning to see the benefits.
Sure, there may now be extra messes. Some steps will have to be repeated, slowed down, or completely restructured. But, the effort outweighs the process. And in the end, something is learned.
Tiny Tot is asserting his independence, growing through his abilities to perform new tasks, and above all, taking pride in a job well done.
Perfection, and control, can wait. I’m growing a toddler.