MamaBlogger365 – Independence Day by Kate Fineske
I began to say, before being abruptly cut off by my oldest daughter who finished my sentence…
“WE KNOW MOM! Look both ways and slow down.” She states with a little annoyance.
“Remember last year?” I gently add, “When your brother fell?” Trying to further justify my concerned warning of safety.
I can just envision my daughter rolling her eyes as she responds with the following, “Mooommm, you remind us of this Every. Single. Time we turn here! WE know! Sl-oooo-ow do-ooown… (she says in her best “motherly” imitation). We GET it!”
I sigh, and still tense up as I remember last summer at this very same spot watching our middle son hit the ground roughly as his bike slid on the loose rubble below while attempting a right turn.
Every time we get to this part of our bike ride I cringe.
I just canNOT get rid of all the imaginary what-ifs from that one fall.
- What if a car had been coming?
- What if our son had not been wearing a helmet?
- What if it had happened not at this turn, but up just a ways on the short part of our ride that isn’t connected by a paved bike path – where cars have been know to drive by at 55 mph!?
What if’s can drive you nuts, can’t they?
I force myself to halt my thoughts and instead issue a reminder to my children, “Single file, stay ALL the way to the right! Don’t get too close to the bike ahead of yours…”
And finally, a little more panic-sounding I add,”To the right! Car coming! Stay to the right!”
Of course, the car passes us very slowly, as the driver turns her head giving me a brief smile and a polite wave. Sometimes I just can’t help my panic. I try to remember that hundreds of kids ride their bikes up and down this street all the time. Why am I such a worry wart?
And my momentary panic subsides as we safely cross the road, enter a park, and return to the paved bike path.
To Grow and Let Go
As a mother watching her children continue to grow older and more independent, I go back and forth between wanting to keep my kids safe now, and wanting to teach them how to be safe later.
Children need direction. Children need rules. Children need encouragement, discipline and people who can model right from wrong. I gladly give my kids all these things and more.
However, I also realize that each of my own children need one more experience to help them succeed as adults. They need their independence and the ability to know that they can be successful without me always there beside them.
It is this last thing, that is the hardest and most painful experience for me to give them.
Later that same night, as we slowly travel back home, the heat of the evening and the length of the bike ride are starting to take their toll. We are coming dangerously close to bed time due to a last-minute detour to get ice cream.
Once again we arrive among the aforementioned crossroads – the pathless road filled with loose gravel and the occasional ditch.
Except this time, before I even get a chance to shout out my cautious directions, my oldest daughter yells out to her younger brother:
“Slow down! Look both ways!
And don’t forget about the loose gravel at the end the road!”
And I smile inside, because this time the warning came from her.
My daughter carefully glances back at me with a shy smile, silently seeking approval – not realizing that I see her warnings as somewhat of her own “declaration of independence.”
But underneath that shy, approval seeking smile she understands. And so do I.
Just like learning to ride a bike, in order to let our kids grow, we first have to learn how to let go.
Way easier said than done.
Leave a Comment: As our children learn to live, how do you as a parent learn to let go?
This post has been contributed on behalf of The National Association of Mothers Centers, whose mission is to create a community of women, who through mutual support and public advocacy, explore, enrich and value the maternal experience.
The post author, Kate Fineske, currently is a staff member with the National Association of Mothers’ Centers where she maintains and provides the content to the Mothers Central Blog – the Parenting Blog of the NAMC. She is also responsible for helping the NAMC work to build stronger connections and support with the local Mothers’ Center Chapters nationally.
Kate is a longtime member of the National Association of Mothers’ Centers through her local chapter of the Mothers’ Center of Greater Toledo in Ohio. She and her husband are busy raising 3 children ages 1-8. Kate’s professional background is as a graphic designer in the creative and education industry. Since 2005, she has been using her professional skills by actively volunteering with the Mothers’ Center of Greater Toledo in various leadership positions. She also blogs personally at http://www.onthegomomma.net.