Midwinter Pause

kids looking out a snowy windowWe had big plans of hopping on the train to local museums and galleries and filling our days with the sort of spontaneous adventure that typically leads an entire week of school vacation.  But the cold was simply too cold, and the kiddos could hardly handle walking to the train during our attempts to explore.  So we spent the majority of our time hunkered down together, and while I honestly prepared for the sort of conflicts anticipated when the kids are cooped up for long periods at a time – I was pleasantly surprised.

The were amazing, actually.

Two kindred, silly spirits, plotting made-up games and running every single wheeled toy, stuffed with animals and buckets of make-believe across the hardwood floors.  Temporary-tattooing their chests and leaving a trail of disaster throughout their tiny sanctuary.  Carefully arranged abandoned toys became vestiges of life frozen in childhood creativity. And during a week of carrying an unexpected heavy heart – I was grateful for all of it.

Inside the snowy windows – all that seemed to matter was the love cocooned between four walls and evidence of an incredibly vibrant life with children.

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On Carrying Their Backpacks {Lessons in Motherhood}

I suppose I’d like to think that I was a mom who stepped away from helicoptering.  A mom who calmly asked her son, “where do you think your foot should go?” upon noticing his trepidation at the top of the jungle gym.  Hoping to never rob my kids of the opportunity to learn from risk-taking.  Aiming never to meddle with those budding inner compasses – leading to the profound sense of earned accomplishment in mastering something alone.

I’d like to think that I was a mom who was working on raising up motivated, resilient, self-reliant little people.

teaching kids to be resilient

In motherhood, it is incredibly difficult to see our children struggle without wanting in some way, to make things right. The challenge continues when deciphering when to intervene – and then decided what form of life-raft to send along the way.  But this precious life can not be presented as a false reality – and I can not run to mend or cushion all of my children’s struggles. As it is often in the mending that we create more problems for our children.

Last year, when playing after school, my little guy was met with a big branch in his eye. I knew immediately – in the way that only a mother can – that he sustained a true injury.  His trembles and cries lasted the entire walk home, and he was carried in my arms the ten blocks or so, while my husband rushed home to drive him to urgent care.  I was incredibly frustrated that day with my first-grader who repeatedly asked me to carry her backpack.  I was already carrying my 34 pound son, his backpack and my bag.  Didn’t she hear his sobs?  Couldn’t she muster the strength to stop complaining?

As I thought about the situation later that evening, I realized that I never even gave my daughter the chance to wear her backpack.  Instead, I instinctually slid the straps off of both of my children’s backs as soon as they came out of school. Carrying the weight of books and lunch boxes for them – I didn’t even give my actions a second thought.

A lot has changed since that day at the playground.  My son’s corneal abrasion healed up nicely, and the kiddos regularly carry their backpacks. Sometimes they’re too heavy and sometimes I assist – but only when asked.  For the most part, the children don’t even notice the monstrosities strapped to their backs on our daily walks home from school.  And as for me?  I’m actively trying to be cognizant of and change the things that I do for my children that they can, and should be, doing for themselves.

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