30 Jul Non-Toxic Mothering
As J.D. Salinger aptly wrote, “All mothers are slightly insane.” Are we, really?!
I have to admit that there is some real truth to that statement, probably because this other statement is true:
Eight years ago, I decided to let my heart go walking around outside my body forever when I had my first daughter. As a carefree, nomadic young person, I had no idea that a hyperactive-control-freak-hovering-over woman even existed within me. Alas, she did and she emerged with great gusto the first time my daughter:
ran from my arms towards the street.
was criticized by another person.
rode a bike.
Should I go on?
I think you get the picture pretty clearly.
Letting Go of Your Inner Control Freak
You may not be a Type A personality, but there is something about motherhood that brings the control freak out of the best of us. Today I’m going to touch on a few areas that many moms can relate to – let’s see how many of these get a hand-raise from you
Safety – You’ve purchased the #1 recommended car seat for your child, had it installed by a local police officer and even watched videos of how it fared in accidents – check. You have child-proofed your entire house with so many locks and gadgets that your friends can’t grab a drink from your fridge or use your toilet without asking for help – check. You have your diaper bag packed with every possible emergency necessity known to man and re-stock it weekly – check. You have banned sharp objects from your house in the same way that spinning wheels were banned from the kingdom of Briar Rose – check.
Health – Your children have learned three different “hand-washing” songs that are over a minute in length in order to ensure that they wash their hands long enough – check. You personally ensure that each child has brushed and flossed three times per day – check. Candy of any kind is strictly verbotten – check. Your child get’s hand-sanitized when they touch: a toilet, a baby, a dog, a cheerio, a bench, you – check.
Education – Your baby knows 100 words in baby sign language by the time they are a year old – check. Your preschooler reads and writes by the age of 3.5 and your kindergartener knows their times tables up to twelves – check. You plan your first graders extra-curricular activities with their college admission applications in mind – check.
Really, I could go on. But for the sake of brevity, let’s take a deep breath (go ahead, I’ll wait!) and openly admit where we are freakish-ly controlling in our parenting. It may not be an area that I have listed. It may be something totally unrelated to these categories.
Focus On What You Can Do!
But one truth flies high above every.single.act. we take to try to control our children or what happens to them – We simply can’t do it!
We can’t protect them from every accident.
We can’t make sure their feelings aren’t hurt by friends.
We can’t predict when sounds will string into words and words will string into sentences and they will have that “Eureka” moment and say “Momma! I’m reading!”
We can’t ensure that cod-liver oil supplements and 10 hand-washings per day and avoiding the Chic-Fil-A playground and the church nursery will keep them from getting the stomach flu or a fever.
We just can’t.
But here’s one thing we can do – we can stop hovering over our kids and start enjoying them. We can reject extremes and embrace balance.
We can receive with joy the role of “caregiver” which is more about Giving Care and not at all about squeezing the life out of us and our littles ones.
We can teach them to brush themselves off when they fall down instead of screaming and calling 911.
We can show them our favorite books from when we were a child and read them out loud with all the voices.
We can serve our kids kale and chicken nuggets in the same meal without fainting.
We can roll with the punches (because the punches will keep coming) and in doing so, teach our kids to do the same.
Mothering with Joyful Intentionality doesn’t mean controlling or hovering or over-protecting. It means loving our kids and enjoying life, setting healthy boundaries, learning from mistakes, growing through pain.
And when we do that, our mothering will become truly Non-Toxic.