My Biggest Parenting Failure

Last night I read list of questions designed to be writing prompts for parents. I was feeling a little stuck. The list definitely acted as a lubricant! My mind was racing so much last night that I didn’t get much sleep. I was excited to get up this morning and get to my computer.

The question that stood out the most was this: “what has been your biggest parenting failure so far?”

I like balance, especially when I’m sharing ‘bad’ things. So, for the sake of balance I’m going to also share my biggest parenting success so far. The two just happen to be very closely related.

Big brother is three and a half. He’s a brilliant, talkative, gentle, sensitive little dude, and he loves to learn! He loves to challenge his mind- so much so that he sometimes gets stuck when it comes to making ‘yes or no’ decisions. Simple things like, “would you like a cookie?” Sometimes turn into crises of the mind. And he hates to challenge his body! He didn’t walk until he was 16 months old. His doctor attributed this to a desire to ”do it right”. She said he was just cautious.

He has received occupational therapy for some sensory sensitivities that he deals with. He doesn’t like loud noises (unless he’s the one making them). He struggles with the introduction of new things (some days). And he doesn’t like to be groomed (nail clipping, hair brushing, and teeth brushing used to be much more difficult).

Big brother tends to be very reactive when he is uncomfortable. He screams and runs to momma or daddy for a hug. He covers his ears in new situations, as if to remove himself from the discomfort. It’s a hard thing to watch. As a momma, I want my kids to be comfortable in their own skin. I want big brother to always feel more powerful than the things that bother him.

A couple of months ago we visited family in Tennessee. The boys have cousins there, and tons of playing happened. Big brother began to loosen up as he saw his cousins jumping around and being free.

While we were there I noticed a huge decrease in his level of discomfort in new situations. He stopped covering his ears. He ran more. He jumped more, and he seemed much more comfortable interacting with the world.

One afternoon while we were in Tennessee, my mother in law and I took the boys to my niece’s horseback riding lesson. There were a few plastic playscape there, so the boys were set free to play. Little brother scaled the playscape like the adventurist that he is (he has no problem in new situations, and he loves discovering how high he can bounce). Big brother was more hesitant.

Eventually big brother began to play. At one point I noticed that he was getting upset. He was still the top of the tallest playscape (which wasn’t that tall), trying to decide how he was going to get down. My mother in law was there serving as encouragement.

I noticed that they were talking, which I filed away as a good thing. Typically big brother tends to scream in these uncomfortable situations. I decided that my mother in law was handling the situation, so I continued to pay attention to little brother.

A few minutes later, big brother ran to me with tears in his eyes. He was jumping with joy, and exclaimed, “momma! I was so brave!”

Later my mother in law told me that he had informed her that he didn’t want help. He wanted to practice being brave.

My momma heart melted.

Since we’ve been home from Tennessee, Big Brother has continued to practice bravery, but he still gets stuck. He still covers his ears occasionally. And he still prefers challenging his mind over challenging his body (although he is becoming more and more comfortable with climbing and falling.)

This comes to my biggest failure as a parent (so far- he is only three, after all). For the past two years I have felt like I’ve failed my son by being ‘too careful’ with him.

Whenever he does anything, my instinct is to shout ‘be careful!’. I rarely let him experience things without being right there, holding his hand. I was convinced that I’d broken his bravery. I knew that he could never be confident because I squished his confidence as a baby.

I know I’m not alone in this. I often see moms (with one kid 😂) acting as the bubble wrap for their kid’s life. It’s careless, after all, to just let your kid go wherever and do whatever they want! I mean, what kind of mom just let’s her kid walk along the brick wall surrounding the water fountain at the park?! As it turns out, this mom- little brother and pregnancy have left me exhausted, so big brother has had some space to learn bravery.

I’m grateful for our current chaos because it has been a good thing for big brother! He still gets loads of my attention, but he no longer lives in the bubble that I intended to keep him in until he was 18.

I’m not blaming myself for all of his lack of resilience and bravery, but I do take responsibility where it is due. I was too careful with him. I thought I was in control, and it hindered him a little.

So, my biggest success as a parent (specifically as a parent to Big Brother): the Roomba bravery incident.

Big Brother HATES the Roomba. He detests it! It is loud. It moves without reason. It chases unsuspecting toddlers into chairs that are just a little too high to comfortably climb into. It’s the worst!

Yesterday the Roomba was in the living room charging, and little brother decided that the power button looked extra inviting. He proudly pushed it. The robot beeped its warning beeps, and big brother stood erect. He watched as it bounced from chair to wall. He closely observed its motions. Then he exclaimed, “momma, I’m gonna turn it off!”

Now I typically would have jumped out of my seat and turned it off long before big brother noticed what little brother had done. I’m a ninja. But yesterday was a rough day. It was sweltering here in Texas and momma couldn’t just jump up. I’ve been so dizzy lately. So, I stayed out and let the situation play out without intervention.

Big Brother walked over to the Roomba. He was kind of hunched over, as if trying to catch a rabbit. He lunged torward the Roomba, pinned it down, and pushed the green power button. It beeped to signal that it was stopping and big brother shouted, “I did it, momma!!”

Y’all, my big boy was so brave!

He jumped into my arms and I proudly told him how brave I thought he’d been. It was a precious moment. I fought back tears…over a Roomba (I’m pregnant, give me a break!).

This was the proudest that I’ve been of myself and him. I was not a control freak. I did not give in to my fear of having to deal with a potential melt down, and as a result, big brother was able to choose to be brave. Win win.

It’s the little things 😂.

What has been your biggest parenting success/failure? I’d love to know!

Thank you so much for reading! Please comment and share if you’d like!

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