Sometimes, I wonder if my preschool son will ever be willing to go to the bathroom alone.
He’s five. He’s social. He detests solo time. And, since he has a twin brother and a large family, he quite literally never has to do anything unaccompanied.
I admit that sometimes I think I should force the issue. “Go potty! Go alone, child!” Because we mamas; we like to second-guess ourselves. It’s much easier than giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt. After all, parenting is serious. It’s the most important thing we’ll ever do. And what if he’s still inviting me to take him potty when he’s 47? Because I don’t think I can do this ’til I’m 70, guys!
But I don’t force the issue. Because forcing it doesn’t feel right. And the longer I’m a mama, the more I trust my gut, even when it’s for weird stuff.
Besides, my son is affording me some choice teachable moments. Like this one:
“Hey, son! I have an idea. Now that you’re finished pottying, how about you twist your undies so they’re straight? That way, your boy bits won’t fall out of your underwear leg-hole.”
“MOM!” he replies. “What a GREAT idea!”
What can I say? I’m a genius.
So instead of forcing, I encourage.
“Want to try going alone this time?” I suggest.
“NO, Mom! I told you. I am TOO SCARED,” he replies.
“How about I stand here in the doorway? You’ll be able to see me, but I’ll be just a little further away?”
“Alright, Mom. I’m not very brave,” my baby explains.
“Oh, honey,” I answer. “It’s OK. You don’t have to be brave yet. Let’s just practice a little bit.”
Do you ever catch the words falling out of your mama-mouth? Do you ever hold them in your hands and stare at them a while?
Because I think about all of the times I lament not being brave yet. And I think about the hard time I give myself for failing to put myself out there. For not being the mama or the employee or the wife I wish I had the guts and drive to be. And I suspect that I need that little life lesson as much as my son.
“You don’t have to be brave yet, Beth. Let’s just practice a little bit.”
Yep. Things fall out of my mouth, and that’s when I remember that it’s my job to teach my kids, not just with words, but by example, how to be gentle with myself, how to forgive myself, how to encourage myself, and how to not beat myself up.
It’s my job to treat myself with the same love with which I treat my kids. I don’t have to be brave yet. I just have to practice a little bit. Because bravery isn’t something we’re given. It’s something we learn in fits and starts. No matter how old we are, and no matter what fear we’re trying to overcome.
And I wouldn’t be remiss to learn from my kids, either. To remember that it’s OK to admit when I’m scared. To invite people to accompany me to the heart-places where I’m vulnerable. To relax my “I must do this alone” mantra.
Because, when we invite people in, we learn to identify things that we can’t see when we use only our own eyes.
And, let’s be honest, we all need people in our life who can remind us that we’re OK, who can help us be just a little bit brave, and who can tell us when to straighten our pants.
And, just a quick reminder that Rachel of Fawn and Feather is taking your Halloween costume questions all week, right here on this blog. Or, if you just need some ideas, check out the responses she’s already given other readers. AMAZING!