Throw Caution to the Wind


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Certainly it is not news that raising children is hard. It’s hard emotionally, financially and physically. Being a role model, not the temporary teenage Miley Cyrus kind but the day in and day out mad sad glad bored tired, kind of role model can be tough.

I’ve failed my mission more than a couple times. My daughter, 18 and full of exciting grown-up life, experienced what I call one of my slip-ups. Except “slip-up” implies a onetime occurrence and this went on for about 10 years.


My two children are like any other two children in that certain traits seem as inborn as their hair and eye color. My daughter, who I mentioned in another post is and always has been shy. My son, not as much. Cautious maybe, not shy. In fact when they were younger and still openly depended on me, my daughter relied on her brother in social situations. Her brother is three years younger than she is yet she would follow him and let him break the ice with other kids.

In fact when EJD (our boy) was about 3 years old my husband and I had to watch him because more than once he tried to go home with other families. Not that he was miserable in ours but he was having so much fun with whomever he latched onto he didn’t want it to end. He seemed to figure, “Why not?” Come to think of it, I used to take him to a very large zoo and let him walk next to me. But he’d get entranced with something, an animal or a person, and forget about his mother. Most kids panic when they realize their parent isn’t nearby, he never ever did. Curious, many times I watched him to see his reaction when he realized I wasn’t there.

He never got upset by my absence and always I had to retrieve him. He was just interested in the world.

My daughter, HRD was another story. She wouldn’t even sit by other toddlers in her mommy and me class. She had to sit on the other side of the big room. That reticence remains.

I never insisted she  stay with a group or a team. After she tried it and inevitably didn’t like it – in soccer she would stand limply near the edge of the field or half-heartedly limp after the spinning ball – then I would let her stop. In the spirit of good mothering,
as years passed and I saw other kids playing soccer or in a ballet recital I tried to convince her to participate, because while it was not the best for her I was also afraid her lack-of-involvement made me look like a bad mom.

But there was yet another reason that I allowed her to avoid team anything.

Her social pain was palpable because she inherited that trait from me. I think. I’d say her dad is also not the most outgoing person. But I was with her and I understood and identified with her discomfort. Instead of moving beyond my own trepidation, I sank in and let her avoid what made her uncomfortable.

Sigh. Parenting mistake #879,999,979.


2 responses »

  1. Isn’t it crazy how we can have such perspective, yet hesitate to act? This post rang so true for me (and my 14 year old ‘mini me’ daughter…). I just read through your previous posts… love your writing style and your ‘voice’. Keep at it!

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