(I originally wrote this post when my son went to Kindergarten. I am reviving it because this year I sent my daughter off to Kindergarten and this post was a good reminder.)
When I think back to my own childhood, I don’t recall my parents being fearful.
I walked to and from school from Kindergarten on (it was at least a half mile…if not a mile each way). I honestly don’t recall my mother tearfully waving goodbye or praying that I would make it to school free from harassment from child predators, text messaging motorists or boys with bad intentions.
I rode my bike ALL over town. Into the next town sometimes too (…not sure if she knew about that!).
I basically came home for dinner and that was about it.
Did she have these fears?
I’m sure somewhere in the back of her mind, they were there. Small whispers that she likely brushed aside quickly as irrational. She’s not around anymore, so I can’t really ask…but I think any good mom fears a tad for her children when they walk off into the wild away from Mama Bear.
I never saw it though. My mom was always encouraging and, when I look back, incredibly brave!
My mom’s bravado lead me to believe I could conquer the world. I had a good head on my shoulders and a healthy sense of self discipline and she trusted me. Even though the world can be a mess sometimes, she created healthy boundaries for me and let me push them when I was ready (and skillfully held me back when I wasn’t!).
It’s a different world we live in today. Or perhaps…it’s the same world but with a 24/7 news cycle. I don’t know, I’m not here to debate whether the media or the scariness of our world today is the chicken or the egg.
One thing I’m learning very quickly though is that sometimes it’s not about me or MY fears. It’s about letting them take that leap with confidence no matter how shaky my own confidence might be.
When I walked my son up to the door of his elementary school that very first day I was no longer allowed to walk in with him…my heart dropped.
Scenarios ran quickly through my head. What could happen between the door and his classroom? Does he know his way to his classroom? Is he ready for this? Am I ready for this?
I didn’t let him see that. I projected confidence and assurance to my small boy. My sweet, trusting little guy with his glasses that magnify his sweet puppy dog eyes making him look even younger, even more unsure of himself.
That’s part of what being a mom is about.
Keeping those fears inside, under lock and key and sending a little prayer up to God to keep your baby safe.
Letting them fall when you know it’s going to happen.
Letting them fight with their siblings so they can learn how to compromise.
Letting them go hungry so they can learn that it’s not always pizza and ice cream, and that is something they are going to have to deal with.
I didn’t know being a mom was going to involve me (let’s face it, I pretty much wear my heart on my sleeve) learning to keep a lid on it.
Learning not to let those emotions pass across my face because I need to project to my child something I am no fully sure of myself yet. That he is ready, that I am ready and that he should go forth because it’s time to let the little birdie fly.
Was my mom scared all of those years ago?
It was a different day and time and the risk of having me walk by myself to school was worth the confidence and lesson it taught me. We take different risks nowadays, but they still require a level of bravado. A bit of a facade on the part of the parent.
It’s not a lie. We can’t know everything that is out there. Fear is normal and natural and protective.
I didn’t know what it would feel like in my gut. I couldn’t have. It’s something you can’t quite put into words.
It brings to mind the quote I am going to leave you with though. My favorite quote about parenthood because these words ring truer than any others I’ve ever heard:
Did you feel like this dropping your kids off at school this year? Mom’s of older kids, have you taken a leap that you weren’t quite ready for? Maybe let your child walk all the way to school? Ride the bus? Drive a car to school (gulp!)? Answer below.