A couple of days ago I was on the phone with my best friend. Let’s just call her Gwen, because that’s her name.
Gwen has 6-year-old triplets while I just have the one 6-year-old (who feels like triplets), so naturally the conversation turned to our kids. We talked about the funny/cute things our kids were doing, moved on to the ridiculous and annoying, and ended up where we always do: in the land of worry. It’s here that each of us takes turns detailing the questionable child behaviors and parenting challenges that keep us up at night. As we pound out each worry off our super-secret mental list, we pause in the hope of a reassuring answer on the other end of the phone.
“Why do we worry so much about everything?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I know my mom didn’t worry like this!” she said.
“Pfft. Mine either. She worked full-time and never obsessed about every little thing I was doing. She was a great mom, but she didn’t stay up nights worrying about my math grade.”
When we got off the phone I let that thought sink in a while longer. I know my mom worried, but she seemed to keep a level head about it all. She didn’t obsess over minor details of my education, or research quirks about my personality. She didn’t fear what I was or wasn’t destined to become as a result of these things, and yet me and all my mom friends, do exactly that.
Our kids need to know we care, of course, but they also need the freedom to evolve without being put under a microscope. If our future success and personal happiness didn’t hinge upon every grade and social interaction, why should theirs?
Our parents worried about bigger and better things than the occasional bedwetting or name-calling incident. Every phase we went through didn’t have to mean something bigger or sound off alarms. Our parents banked on the fact that kids would be kids – learning, growing, messing up, and having fun.
Parents, perhaps we owe it to our kids and our fragile hearts to chill out a little. When we make the conscious effort to parent from a place of possibility rather than of fear, everyone wins.