I always thought that when I had kids, I would be this serene, earthy mother who listened intently and encouraged my children to think and come to their own conclusions about the world. I still aspire to be this mom, but I never knew how tough it could be to put aside my instinct to push.
My Avery, at almost 17 months old, won’t walk on her own. Sure, she will walk behind something or while holding onto the furniture, but those first miraculous solo steps have yet to occur. Is the doctor worried? Nope. Am I worried? You bet your ass. Should I just leave her alone and trust that when the time is right, she will take off? Probably. But there’s an issue there. I cannot stop pushing.
Every day, we work on walking. I make her toddle while holding onto my hands. I drag her along when she doesn’t feel like doing the drills. I know she is capable, but she’s choosing not to do it. Maybe she feels my intense need for her to hit this milestone, and as a big “screw you, Mom,” she’s just going to make me wait. Serves me right I suppose. I’m being so damn pushy.
Why do I want her to walk now? That’s a question I’ve mulled over and I have to be truly honest here. The reason is incredibly selfish. I want her to walk because the other kids her age are doing it. Am I fearful because I think she’ll miss out on social interactions and learning opportunities? Nope. I’m afraid of being judged as a mom. There. I said it. It’s out there now.
Are people going to think that I coddle her? That I carry her too much? That I helicopter parent? That she sits around watching TV all day because we’re not active enough? This is my anxiety talking. I have to remind myself that she is a smart, funny, capable girl, who is maybe a bit more cautious than her peers. She’s healthy. She crawls everywhere, including up and down the stairs. She’s fine. This is my problem, not hers. She is happy.
And so I vow, yet again, in a moment of reflection, to just stop pushing. To be the mom I always wanted to be. To let it go and let her find her own path. To stop making it all about me. And to try to prepare myself for a lifetime of pulling back when I want to push, and of letting go when I want to hold on.