We Can't Protect Our Kids From Everything

4 years ago
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I had an interesting dream the other night about my son. In my dream, my son was sleeping in the backyard with just a pillow and blanket. No mattress or sheet or anything between him and the ground.

I didn't fear for his safety --- I was much more concerned that he would get dirty. At first, the dream seemed pretty meaningless to me. But the more I thought about it, the more I recognized the symbolism. It wasn't about my distaste for the great outdoors and never wanting to go camping or anything even remotely like it. It was about being a mother. Plain and simple.


When it rains, my first instinct is to wonder if my son is wearing a raincoat. When he is with his dad and it rains, I worry that no one is making sure that he is dry. I worry that my son hasn't showered after getting sweaty, is touching his face with dirty hands, that his clothes are mismatched, or his underpants are dirty. When I hear a siren, my first thought is where is my son to make sure he is safe.


A mother worries. All the time.


The dream that my ten year-old son is dirty and sleeping outside just so happens to coincide with the beginning of his social life. You know, the whole “he likes her,” “she likes him,” but then another girl likes him, and there's another boy who likes her.


He often shares all of the details of his social life with me --- which I love --- but at the same time, I am subconsciously trying to undo Mars vs. Venus. I tell him what to do, what to say, how to say it and how to act in order to spare his heart from getting broken.


I realized after this so-called meaningless dream that I just can't do that. I can protect him from the rain, I can make sure he sleeps on clean sheets, and I have successfully shielded him from the details of his parents' divorce where my heart was broken in a gazillion pieces.


But I cannot keep him from experiencing his own heart break. I want to, of course I do. We all want to keep our children safely tucked in their beds, always smiling, never sad, and certainly never divorced.


It became second nature to me to completely shield my son from the emotions and details of the divorce process. I didn't want him to see me upset, didn't want him to know what happened, or what was taking happening throughout an almost four year court battle.


I felt that as long as my son saw that I was fine, he would be fine too. And while he was and is fine about our divorce (most of the time), I can't expect his life to always be sunshine and unicorns. He will get dirty, he will go outside without a coat when he shouldn't, and no matter how adorable and charming he is, some girl is going to break his heart.


Hopefully, it won't be his wife.


The best thing we can do as parents is let them live. Living is part of learning, part of growing up. Mistakes, raindrops, and broken hearts are simply part of the process.



Meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles


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