Wednesday, February 1, 2012

They Will Thank You Later

I love my daughters.  I love them enough to die for them.  In fact, on some days I do die for them -- these unnoticed and miniscule deaths-to-self when I place their needs and interests before my own, when I respond with patience while I'd rather snap, when I give them the last bite of the chocolate cake that I wanted to eat, when I drag my weary body out of my warm bed to comfort them when they wake in the middle of the night.

Because this is what mothers do.

We love our children.

We love them so much that our hearts would tell us to pour everything into them at all times.

While this might seem selfless and noble, perhaps it's not always best.  You see, I'm learning to love my children enough to say no.  To not respond to every beck and call of come play with me or fix this for me.  To let them struggle in a safe environment so they can learn the valuable -- but often untaught -- skills of solving their own problems and entertaining themselves.  It's crazy, I know, but I want my children to enjoy their own company.

Moms, let yourselves know this: you are not your children's monkey.  You are not their entertainer.  You are not their sole source of amusement.  You are their mother, and as mothers, we need to raise kids who know how to occupy themselves pleasantly.  We need to raise kids who don't think that the world revolves around them.  We need to raise kids who will be able to brainstorm solutions to problems and enact those solutions, even if they must try and try again.

Your children will not appreciate this immediately.  They will pull on you and plead with you.  They're kids; it's what they do.  And when they do, it would be easier to yield.  It's easier to swoop in to solve their problems than it is to train them how to struggle through challenges on their own.

But they will thank you later.  They'll thank you when they're the only one on their dorm floor who knows how to do laundry and when they wisely can balance a checkbook when others their age are unwisely racking up credit card debt.  They'll especially thank you when they have children of their own.

This will be a long time for now.  In the meantime, you can tell them, "Dear child, I am thanking myself on your behalf for the excellent mothering that I am providing you."

Right after you encourage them to play by themselves for twenty minutes and enjoy their own sweet company.

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6 comments:

  1. Well said-I was the one on the floor who knew how to do laundry and make more than ramen noodles and how to iron clothes to make them sharp.  :-)

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  2. Amen. It drives me crazy that parents think the have to constantly entertain their kids. By all means they need constant supervision, but it's not healthy for a child to need to be played with all the time. 

    I was often left to play by myself as a child because my mom was a work at home graphic designer, but I was always safe and supervised. It caused me to become a 25 year old woman who can actually handle responsibility and run a home without needing someone to hold my hand, and I am so grateful that my mom instilled a strong sense of self-reliance in me.

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  3. Bravo! Both Hubby and I struggle with guilt when we tell Dudette to go play on her own for a while, but we do it anyway. Train a child, and all, you know. :)

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  4. Love, Love, Love, Love, Love!

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  5. It's so easy to solve all their problems, and yet it makes everything harder down the road.  I have to remind myself, especially when doing math with my oldest, not to sweep in and tell my kids the answers when there is a big pause.  They need to go through that process of figuring it out.

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  6. This is a good reminder to all parents.

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