For five weeks the boys were in India and the girls were in the US. The girls were busy preparing for a new baby and the boys were, well, not bathing regularly and having their own adventures with their dad. And while they said they missed me, I’m sure there was some relief that mom wasn’t around to constantly be telling them to “be careful,” “don’t fall off that high wall,” or “watch out for snakes, monkeys and open manholes.” You know, the normal stuff mom’s say.
Of course, it was hard to know they are on the other side of the world having a glorious time and I wasn’t a part of it. But I didn’t need to be. Dad was there, and adventure and fun are his thing, not mine (just to clarify, I am fun, in my own way. Break out the scones and put on some Downton Abbey! Yeah!). They made memories of a lifetime, ones they are still talking about because the adventure required bravery, courage and a certain comfort with dirt.
They did not inherit my DNA when it comes to adventure (or dirt), and for that I’m grateful.
Bat-filled caves, snakes, a harrowing drive up a mountain, and a hike down a narrow path that has a steep drop-off. Whew! They did more in one day than I would have thought possible with a six and eight year old. The great thing is that they still talk about it as a grand adventure. Think about it: in one year they saw the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and got to ride on an elephant.
My boys also have started playing with the neighbors. Which is great, they just happen to be playing on the street and not a fenced in backyard (have I mentioned street dogs before?). In all these things I have to hold back my fears or else they would never get to go outside our gated house. The truth is that too often I allow my fears to stifle my children, but I’m trying to do better. I want them to grow in independence and at the same time be safe. It’s a delicate balance.
So as a mother of three boys now, I have a choice: 1) Worry about them so much that I make them a nervous wreck and afraid of everything (my go-to move), or 2) Stop worrying so much about all the things that “could” happen. Protect and educate them when I need to, but stop imposing my fears on them so that they can grow confident and learn how to make their own choices.
One is my natural response because it makes me think that by worrying I’m in some way controlling every circumstance. The other, well, is harder because it means I have to admit that I’m not in control of everything and my boys don’t always need mom hovering over them to be safe.
So sometimes it’s helpful and needed for a mother to say no and protect her cubs in this crazy world. But sometimes mom (and her fears) just need to get out of the way and let them climb, run, get dirty, and just be boys.