Being a mom is messy and imperfect and stressful – alongside being rewarding and hilarious. But, I gotta be real and say that there is a LOT of undue pressure put on mamas (and daddys) these days that I have to imagine was not present when I was growing up. I am 38, so it’s been awhile since I was “growing up” (wait, am I actually grown up, when did that happen??) but I don’t remember that my parents had pressures of making me into the next sport/music/academic protégé or that they were carting me from activity to activity to activity on a daily, check that, hourly basis.
Don’t get me wrong. My parents had me in sports and other extracurriculars, and pretty much made sure that my childhood was lacking in nothing of the important stuff. But, they also didn’t fill every waking moment of every single day for me.
Instead, they allowed us our own time to play, on our own terms, in our own way. And you know what? We’re OK. We all grew up, my siblings and I, and we are all OK. We made ice forts in the snow banks and little “seats” on top to wait for the school bus. We played softball and kickball in the empty field next door. We played “kick the can” or whatever other game was popular until the sunset and we were called back inside. We rode bikes. We ate freeze pops. We simply “played”. And we are all OK.
As I head back to work next week, I’ve had this growing sense of awareness about what I do with my daughter on “our time”. We are in swim lessons together, but besides that, I don’t want a bunch of other things to add to our list of “must dos” – I want our time together in the evenings and on the weekends to be spontaneous. I want to go to the zoo and let her explore. I want to go to the beach and let her explore. I want to stay in our own yard (one we share with three other amazing little girls!!) and let her explore. I don’t want to fill her days and nights with a million and one things she “has” to do…and on the other hand, I want her to experience so many things! What I know for sure is that I don’t think any parent should be guilted into signing their kiddo up for this, that and the other thing…kids do, in fact, need time to just be kids.
I am imagining I will need to find a delicate balance around all of this in the coming years. Until she can drive, and set her own darn schedule that is!