I’m soft on my kids. I completely admit it.
There are so many times that my kids eat a small portion of food at breakfast and then are begging for food half an hour later in the car, and you know what? I have more food for them, because the thought of them being hungry drives me crazy. The thought of them being cold or wet or too hot drives me crazy so along with the Thanksgiving of snacks I have in my bag, their entire closet is in there too.
During the day, I look like a pack mule. When my son was potty training, he refused to use any set that wasn’t his smaller clip on seat, so guess what was dangling off my sherpa pack too the ENTIRE time he was potty training. Yup, you guessed it.
I don’t want my kids to ever feel uncomfortable. But I’ve been told that them feeling uncomfortable and learning what to do about it themselves is something that, developmentally, needs to happen.
Today, everything came to a head.
I had packed my bag, it was stuffed and looked ready to exit base camp one on the side of Everest, typical for me taking both kids out on my own.
We headed out the door without a thought as to what we were going to do.
“Let’s have an adventure!” I said. Not too much of an adventure, I should have said. But if you’ve read my other blogs, you know, I never listen to the practical side of my brain, if it even exists at all.
We start walking, the double stroller is left at home.
We walk and walk and see frogs, snakes, throw rocks in the water, jump in puddles, make skeletons out of sticks, we are having this amazing child/parent Thoreau wilderness experience and then I realize…
We still need to walk all the way back home.
It’s noon and I’ve over stepped my daughter’s down time. She starts crying about wanting to go home, the frogs are no longer fun, the puddles are no longer fun, the world is no longer fun.
I knew this would happen, she’s two. I pick her up and we all start to walk back. As we’re walking, we pass all of the things we were just laughing and bonding over, but now all three of us are giving that snake and those puddles a big ‘ole middle finger.
“Mom, I’m tired.” My nearly five year old son moans behind me. Damn it, I had’t planned on his energy being at the same level as his two year old sister. The alarm goes off in my head. He’s uncomfortable!
“Are your legs tired, Buddy?” Stupid question Mom.
“Yeeeeeees.” He’s moaning like a wounded Civil War soldier on a cot.
My neurotic mom brain flies into action.
I set my daughter down, tell her to sit in the grass. I pick my son up, put him on my shoulders and, while holding his legs in the crooks of my arms, pick my daughter up and carry her in a small chair I’ve created with what’s left of my hands.
I plan to carry my children this way the nearly mile walk back to our apartment.
“Is everybody comfy?” I yell, as salty sweat pools into my eyes and my son shoves his spindly fingers into my ears.
“Yes!” The neurotic mom brain quiets. But as we start on our “walk”, the act of physically moving my children up the road begins to take it’s toll.
I’m doing pretty well and then the road starts to incline. I begin to feel the weight of my children, the Thanksgiving of snacks, the entire outdoor gear child’s section of any store I’ve ever visited, baring down on me.
What have I done? This is not sustainable at all.
Cars pass me. I can feel the driver’s staring.
Nothing to look at here, just a female version of Jesus Christ, dragging the cross through the town of Shelburne.
At the top of the hill, I gave up.
“I’m sorry you guys are tired, I probably bit off more than we could chew with this adventure. But you guys are going to have to walk with me.”
There was some grumbling, but what could I do? I was physically spent.
We made it home and like any warrior does after a battle, celebrated by eating peanut butter and jelly while reading “Frog and Toad are Friends” on their parent’s bed.
Today was a big learning day for me, as most days are with these kids.
The days of me carrying the full weight of both of these kids needs to lessen. Some days they need to feel physically tired as we all do when we actually push ourselves. But then our legs and heart gets stronger and we find one day that we aren’t as tired.
And in doing so, maybe I’ll be able to shed the idea that I need to be a martyr for my children to be a good mother. And if my children need to be slightly uncomfortable to be stronger, than so do I. I need to let the neurosis happen and battle with it, as my children need to push through being slightly physically tired.
It looks good doesn’t it on this computer screen as I write it out. But sure as I sit here, that bag will be filled with ten pounds of snacks tomorrow. But maybe we’ll leave the double stroller at home a little bit more.
One strengthening step at a time, right?