It occurred to me this morning that I am inadvertently making my daughter’s life harder than it needs to be…one step at a time.
I’m teaching my daughter how to take care of herself by insisting she do certain things for herself. Not a bad parenting tactic in my opinion.
But there are days when I believe that my daughter is making my life unnecessarily hard as well by not doing things for herself, which makes me insist harder that she do things for herself. I know that she isn’t doing this on purpose. But I’m human, and sometimes I can’t separate the mommy from the woman and I take everything personally.
A classic example of this is on sunny days we walk to school. My daughter loves the idea of walking to school. But the physical act is seemingly beyond her comprehension. She’s the smallest kid in her class. She has short legs. And on wintery days she wears snow pants, which make it difficult (and tiring) to walk.
Yet I make her walk. I’m pushing her brother in the stroller which she has, on many occasions, perched on top of. But when we walk to school, I insist that she walk the whole way. (It’s a 30 minute walk. I can only imagine how exhausted she must be walking in that bulky snowsuit.)
There is no reason why I can’t let her sit on top of the stroller while I push both her and her brother. She’s still outside getting fresh air and sunshine. And she will walk part of the way because perching on the stroller like that is not the most comfortable ride, so her little bum gets sore after a while.
But I insist she walk so that she doesn’t get lazy. (I’m so afraid of this because I lean heavily toward L-A-Z-Y and I don’t want her to inherit this personality trait.)
Recently, however, I’ve noticed that if I invest more time in helping her rather than directing her and insisting she can do it herself, I get a better response out of her all around.
Take this morning, she was a shining example of how a big sister and well-disciplined child is supposed to behave. She ate her breakfast in a timely manner, she got dressed in the clothes I laid out for her, she brushed her teeth and hair and washed her face, all without me reminding her to get ready. And when her brother got upset over something and I suggested he go back downstairs and finish his breakfast because he was clearly cranky from having not eaten much, she took him by the hand back downstairs and helped him finish his breakfast.
Today is her brother’s birthday. This may be why she was going out of her way to be extra nice to him.
Or it could have something to do with the fact that I realized that I have been making her life harder than I need to. So this morning, I helped her.
I physically got down on her level and chatted with her while she got dressed. I didn’t help her get dressed, but I was there. I helped her fix the toe of her tights so they felt comfortable and I held out my hand for her to take for balance as she stepped into her pants.
I’m not going to start doing everything for her. But I’m going to be there for her more than I have been up ’til now in case she does need help.
And maybe by doing this, she’ll stop making my life hard…or at least, in my new mind-set, I’ll be able to separate mommy from woman and realize that, if life gets hard, it’s not because of my beautiful daughter.