The older my daughters get, the more complicated this whole parenting thing becomes. It’s funny. I always assumed that once my girls were at a point where they were more self-sufficient and able to take care of themselves that this being a mom thing would just sort of fall into place.
Boy…how wrong I was on that one.
Sure, now that they’re older I no longer have to worry about the practical matters of life — I haven’t had to wipe a bum in many years — but their emotional needs are becoming increasingly complicated.
And honestly, this is the part that scares the pants off me. Breastfeeding, diaper changes and spit-up were a walk in the park compared to some of the things I find myself dealing with now.
Just this week I found myself in one of these complicated parenting moments with my youngest daughter, Lil’ Mo. She came to me, in tears, telling me about someone who has been hurting her recently. My Mama Bear instincts immediately kicked in. I’ll be honest, because of the nature of the hurt and who it came from — I saw red. My knee-jerk, gut instinct reaction was to open up a giant can of whoop-ass on the offending party. I immediately imagined the conversation I was going to have with this person, and it wasn’t pretty. I would make this person pay.
As I looked into Lil’ Mo’s big teary eyes, I knew that unleashing my wrath wasn’t the answer, as good as it might feel. I took a moment to take a deep breath and calm myself down. I hugged my little girl as tight as I possibly could and we proceeded to have a conversation about what she could do to improve the situation. We talked about what she should say to this person and how she should say it. I went on to explain to her that she’s not responsible for how others react to her expression of her concerns, the only thing she can do is her best to express her own thoughts and feelings. She can only ever be responsible for herself.
We talked about courage, and how courage doesn’t mean that you never feel afraid, that courage is feeling afraid and doing it anyhow. I told her that it was completely understandable for her to feel nervous and afraid to have this conversation with this individual, but that I had absolute faith in her ability to do it. I also told her that feeling nervous and afraid to have difficult conversations isn’t unique to kids, that adults experience it all the time, too, but that with practice, it does get easier.
We laid out a plan for how we would handle things if this conversation didn’t have the desired effect. A gradual escalation that would eventually involve my input if she was unable to handle the matter on her own.
I’m not gonna lie — this was tough. So incredibly tough. Because honestly, I felt like I could have beaten this person with my bare hands. But I knew that this was something that Lil’ Mo needed to at least try to handle on her own, so that she can learn how to deal with difficult situations and difficult people. My job as her momma isn’t to magically make everything right in the world for her; it’s about giving her the tools so she can make things right herself. But giving up that sense of control to have faith in my sweet little girl was tough.
I guess it was a good lesson for both of us.
And so I found out yesterday that Lil’ Mo did indeed handle the matter all on her own. She sat this person down and had that much-needed conversation. When she told me all about it, I’ll admit that I was beaming with pride. I need to have faith in her a little more often, obviously. Of course, time will only tell if her actions will have the desired effect in this situation, but the important thing is that she stepped up to the plate. She is learning that she has courage and can do difficult things all on her own.
My sweet, brave little girl.