Eight months ago the only significant fear I had was an irrational one of snakes. Worried was not a word that anyone would have used to describe me. Then Wren was born and after the initial wonder and elation quieted a tiny bit, the mother bear instinct took over. At first I found it thrilling and a bit charming, like “cool, something new. I’m really an animal. This is NATURE!” But it hasn’t gone away and it’s not really thrilling and certainly not charming anymore.
Everyone else on the road automatically turned into an awful driver and 125% of those people were simultaneously texting or talking on their cell phones. Driving to Target with a newborn was not quite as fun as I had hoped given the situation ‘out there.’ And there is still no way — almost eight months into this adventure — that I would let Wren go in a car without me. God forbid… And since she was born, I have not spent more than three hours away from her. “Oh, how sweet,” some might think. hhmph. I may occasionally even give others the illusion that I’m not protective of my daughter. “Sure, you can hold her…” But on a fundamental level, I’ve become what I never ever ever ever thought I’d become. A protective parent, teetering on the precipice of being over-protective. Yikes. The horror!
I used to just shake my head (and wince, a lot) at people who were over-protective of their children. I had no idea how one could even become so… err, strange. How could I possibly have become this way? This is not expected given my own childhood. I went on walks by myself down the street to the deer park when I was about three. And to the store for a few groceries too. My Dad thought it was cute to see me coming back with a bottle of beer. This was the Netherlands, but still. My parents threw me in a pool in Portugal around the same time and only afterward remembered that I might not even be able to swim. But, of course, I bobbed up to the surface and kept on going. Back in the US, I walked to school and all over the neighborhood. No worries. Nothing every happened; I didn’t get abducted. I was a happily independent, empowered child and this has carried with me through my whole life. Only now do I realize what a true gift this sense of empowerment was that my parents gave me as a wee one. Probably the single best gift, after my life. I had NO idea how hard it would be. To let go. Every day. Ouch. One of those weird things that down the road, you’ll be so glad you did, but at the time, it’s terrible. Kinda like getting out of bed to go for a run on a cold, dark morning. Speaking of which, I should do that too…
For inspiration, I look to this Gibran poem and hope that I can give my daughter the wings she needs to fly.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
- Why do people think that when the phone rings and it’s a bad time for them, they HAVE to answer it?
- Orange is my favorite color today. Still is. But I saw a shade of azure today and just about fell in love with it. I would like to name a boy Azure, but no one would pronounce it correctly and he would be scarred for life.
- School is one of my loves. In fact, when I wasn’t in school, I would play school. Even now I just about pee my pants when it’s school supply time in August. I could easily be in school for the rest of my life. I like it more than real life.
- One of my fantasies when I was in sixth grade was that I would become a film director, go to Hollywood and direct Tom Cruise in a film. We would commence to fall in love and get married. Then Katie Holmes went and married him. She’s my age. Weird.
- I’m Canadian.
My husband and I have been struggling to let go of our unconscious tendencies toward overprotective behaviors too. Mine resemble what you described – the mama grizzly bear metaphor was one I used early on with our 2 1/2 year old. From the day she was born, I’ve had to learn to let go a little more each day, and I’m finally starting to accept that it’s a lifelong process. However, when/if I do, I feel more whole and indeed, see how it empowers her to become a whole person too. I do think postpartum hormones serve a purpose to some degree (a redneck woman getting in her face at Kroger when she was 11 days old is something I’ll never forget… another reason to carry your baby in a sling instead of leaving her in the carseat in the shopping cart!), but shortly thereafter, we must start asking ourselves what is in the best interests of our children and in our own best interests. And the poem by Khalil Gibran is one of the wisest things I’ve ever read – I never tire of it, and I’m sure I need to read it every time I see it.
I think you might be putting a little too much pressure on yourself. If it doesn’t yet feel right to you to have Wren in a car without you or be away from her for more than a few hours, then don’t do it. I don’t think you are being overprotective, you just haven’t HAD to do those things, so it might seem awkward and uncomfortable to do after almost eight months, however, know that eventually those things will have to happen and maybe set some goals for yourself to help you get there.
Good luck!! 🙂
Pingback: 2010 in review « squirrels in wren's nest
Pingback: Kindergarten! | Be Squirrely