Friday, May 10, 2013

Today I lost the battle, but I know I'm winning the war.

It was definitely a Friday morning today.

You know how those tend to go.  A few more snoozes on the alarm...a little bit longer spent under warm covers...who wants to get out of bed when there's a giggly girl snuggled up next to you while singing along to her beloved mouse?

While I was hurrying to get myself somewhat put together for school, Natalie climbed into the dry and empty bathtub with the instructions to retrieve a book of mine that she had thrown in.

Needless to say when she saw her bath toys my book was quickly forgotten.  But seeing as how she was happily occupied pretending to make Ariel swim, I kept going about my morning routine instead of harping on the retrieval of my book.

Finally I was ready to go and asked Natalie, "Do you want to go get dressed?"

"No" she replied simply as Flounder chased Ariel around the tub.

I wasn't going to fight it.  Not today.

I informed her that I was going to go downstairs to make my lunch and when I returned it would be time to get dressed.

A few minutes later I bounded back up the stairs and into the bathroom to gather my girl from the tub so that I could get her dressed for the day.

What I saw sent chills down my spine and churned my stomach upside down.

My two-year-old was holding my razor and claiming that she had a "boo-boo" on her leg.

Duh.  How could I have been so careless to leave my curious, observant daughter in the tub while my razor and shaving cream sat just to the side, right next to her ducks, stacking cups and water rings?  And bless her sweet little heart, she just wants to be like Momma.

When I picked her up out of the tub there was no blood but it was starting to gush by the time I got her to the changing table.  As the bright red liquid oozed out of her body I started to panic - it was hard to see how big or deep the wound was.

And on top of that - there's just something about seeing my child's blood that upsets me....compounded with the fact that I felt solely responsible for her injury.

I called for Craig to bring a rag and some Band-aids so that he could wipe her up while I held her down, her face red and hot while tears streamed down her cheeks.  We bandaged her up, wiped her tears and finished getting her dressed.  I dropped her off at Ms. Rebecca's house as a happy girl - one that was so eager to show off her boo-boos.

At the end of the day she is fine.  It was only a few superficial scrapes here and there on her knee and there's not even a real NEED for a Band-aid.

But that doesn't mean I don't feel a little guilty and a lot like a failure.  Because....I've got some secrets to share about my parenting.  I don't help her go up and down the stairs.  We've taken down our baby gates.  Sometimes I even let her play up in her playroom while I'm downstairs on the computer.  I don't play games with her as much as I should - she entertains herself quite well.  I let her eat food off the kitchen floor without blinking an eye.  I don't help her up the playground equipment unless she specifically asks for my help.  I let her play with the big kids at the basketball tournaments while I watch the game.  I make her drag around laundry in the baskets.  She has to wipe up her own spills and put away the dirty clothes that accumulate on the floor.

Some people might call this neglectful parenting because I'm not watching her every move to prevent injuries or mishaps.  I call it empowering.  I see my daughter's strengths.  I see her capability.  I see the joy in her face when she accomplishes something on her own.  Why would I want to hold her back?  There will be plenty of opportunities in her life for someone to try and push her down and tell her that she can't do something.  As her mother, my job is to prepare her for the day when someone tells her that she isn't good enough.  I must instill in her an unwavering sense of confidence and self - the ability to shake off rejection or failure and step back up to the plate, more determined than ever to hit the ball out of the park so that she can prove everyone wrong.

So I let her go and try things at the park that might seem a little too big or scary.  If she tries and she falls, I will pick her up and dry the tears...then show her how to conquer that mountain.  I give her responsibility, not because I'm being a lazy person but because I am committed to proactive parenting and raising a capable young adult.

Often when we're out in the community and we run into people we know (which always happens, given our careers and places of employment) people will tell me how much older than two Natalie seems to be.  I shrug my shoulders and make a comment on her height making her deceptively older.  But that's not what people are noticing - it's her mannerisms, her interactions and her ability to follow instructions.  "She's not a baby anymore!" they tell me.  I smile and say "I know, she's growing up quick!"  But the reason she's not a "baby" is because we don't treat her like a baby.  Don't get me wrong, she is and always will be MY baby and I will rock, cuddle and cover her in kisses for as long as she will let me.  But knowing that she is my baby doesn't mean that my "baby" isn't capable of doing chores, making good decisions, or understanding instructions.

I hope this isn't coming across as cocky or smug.  I am not perfect (remember that razor?) and neither is my daughter....but she is a capable little girl and empowering young women is part of my job description.  So I'll continue to let her lead the way.  I'll keep giving her responsibility and challenges as long as she seems to enjoy and even crave them.

But perhaps....I should keep the razors on a higher ledge for the time being.

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