We want our kids to be fearless. Cautiously fearless. Fearless yet avoiding an ER visit. Fearless while also covered in bubble wrap with a syringe of Benadryl on hot stand-by and “9-1-” already dialed on our cell phone, just in case. My son turned two not long after we moved to Japan. If you want to know what true fearlessness looks like, watch Japanese children on a Japanese playground. It’s a fantastic, colorful, well-built, fun, lawless place. They climb and jump and run and fall hard without hesitation. They are bold and that’s perfectly normal. That’s simply how they are. What about our kids? And, what about us? As moms, where’s our fearless? How do our kids learn to be bold if we’re protecting and hovering and organizing and googling every single thing? This applies to ourselves, too. Not just for our children. What happens if how we over-structure and over-secure our children’s lives becomes exactly what we do to our own?
How will our children ever know what it’s like to take a chance and leap, if we never show them?
I recently made a huge purchase. Well, to be accurate, I’m in the process of making a huge purchase. The biggest purchase you can make and I’m making it by myself. Just me. My own choice and my own money. And, it’s not just any purchase. It’s a “change your life” purchase. It’s a “change your child’s life” purchase. Needless to say, I was in full-on panic attack mode for a solid 24 hours at first. Is it too expensive? Is it too far? Is it horrible? Once I tell him, will he hate it? Will I hate it? Will he hate me? Am I making a huge mistake? Will this ruin everything? Will I ruin everything?
Ok, let me be clear. I’m very dramatic and a fantastic worrier. Spectacular at both things, actually. I felt like that should be established before I go any further.
Anyway, I was about 17 hours into my 24-hour Meltdown when my best friend (the super realistic one) sent me a text that said only this.
“Sometimes we have to just leap.”
I sat down after I read it. Those six words coming from her hit me right in all of my feelings. I have to leap. I have to trust myself. I have to be bold like those fearless little ones in Japan who jump from heights with invisible wings. I have to do scary things to show my son that we can all do scary things. Even his Mama who’s kept Band-aids in her purse since 2013 and takes all the medication on trips and always knows where the nearest Urgent Care is located. What kind of mother am I to tell him, “Son, don’t be scared” if that’s how I’m living my own life? Scared, sheltered and safe. I want him to see me doing brave things. Big things. Things that change our lives and make them different but also make them better. Things that make Mama scared but she does them anyway and, goodness, aren’t you glad that she did?
I can’t cover him in bubble wrap any more than I can cover myself. There’s going to be hurt. There are going to be bad decisions and ER visits and tears from both of us. There’s always going to be fear. It’s life and we’re human. But, I don’t ever want that to stop him from trying. I don’t ever want that to stop him from stepping outside of his comfort zone and being larger than his own life. He doesn’t have to be fearless. But, sometimes he has to leap and have faith that he’ll land.