For so many years of my motherhood I loved that title. Imagining anyone terrorizing or messing with my kids and me coming in hot with claws and a massive pounce. I remember the first feeling I had when someone physically moved my child away from her child at the mall playground. I was massivley pregnant (and hormonal) with my second baby, and the rage that ensued in my overly round (remember, pregnant) face was probably noticeable by the whole entire mall. My baby was being treated unjustly and I had to fix it. I had to protect them from this injustice.
But when does that stop? When do we decide they're old enough to take on their own battles? I've been thinking about this a lot lately, especially as mine are now in elementary school, and mommy can't be there 24-7. How has my protectiveness hindered them growing into the independent humans who need to positively contribute to society?
I help run a children's ministry during the week, and have the privildege of working with moms coming alongside them and their children, partnering together to help train them how to be in a classroom. But I have to tell you something. Moms are the best thing to ever happen to society, and also the worst. I feel like I can say that fairly because I am one! We come from the motive of trying to protect our kids, but somehow we are distracted by being ready to defend and protect, we fail to see the other side of things. We protect our kids from anything negative. Anything. Including natural consequences they have chosen, or social situations which might not be ideal, or a kid who "we can't believe is that mean" (but also need to remember our kid is just as capable of that); but they are one day going to be a member of society and have to deal with those emotions...at a much deeper level. How do we balance when to pull our claws out and when to be on the sidelines cheering them on and supporting them and loving them through really hard hard things? Ps. Don't feel bad if that is you because I am raising my hand saying, "I have been that mom!"
I received a phone call today from my oldest son's school, that due to a dramatic increase in the school's population, they are adding a first grade class, which means children need to move. You know whose child was one of the ones chosen to move midway thru the year? Mine. You know who automatically wanted to protect her son from any negative emotions he might feel or go through because of this? Me. You know who is going to be so upset to leave friends and a teacher he loves? Mine.
But guess what? I am a firm believer in every single life circumstance--good or bad, every single life choice--both positive AND negative, they all shape us and form us into who we've been designed to be. My parents moved me FAR (like Illinois to Texas far) when I was a freshman in high school. I was so mad and frustrated and slammed doors and huffed and puffed all the way to Texas. The move was hard and terrible and I hated it for a good while. But then I loved it. Then I blossomed into a person I'm not sure I would have been had I stayed in Illinois. I look back and know that going thru that hard time in my life helped mold me into who I am today.
My husband moved me to Austin and I was the lonliest I had ever been. For the first time I didn't have work or school to make friends and I hated life. I remember crying A LOT during those months before I made real friends. But I look back and know that helped shape me into who I am.
I could go on and on with negative times in my life, and super uncomfortable emotions that I would probably rather not feel; but I can look at every hard moment and be able to tell you a personality trait of mine that connects to that time. Who I am was built out of what I've been through. And that's no different for my boys.
So my oldest will be moving to a new class. He's proabably going to be sad and frustrated and cry (much like that day at the mall he was foricbly moved), but I will let him feel all of those. I won't try to make it better. I will sit with him and hug him and let him feel. And then I will remind myself--this new teacher, or maybe a new friend in his new class, or maybe a sub he might encounter in there was meant specifically for him. This situation, the good and the bad, are going to help shape and mold him into who he's meant to be. And there is nothing sweeter than that.
As a mom, our natural instinct is always going to be fierce love, which comes with fierce protection. We were created to nuture and love our children, and in turn protect the heck out of them. How can we let anyone hurt the ones we love? But I am challenging myself to remember that everyone on this earth messes up, situations and life circumstances might sometimes be messed up, but part of loving our children is letting them hurt, in order to learn to heal. So maybe instead of claws out at whatever person or situation is against our kid(s), we are protective without being reactive.
I think I'm going to be a mama eagle; nurturing, protecting, willing to let them leave the nest, ready for them to come back to it. Eagles have the potential to fall, but they also have the potential to soar.
So here I am boys, pushing you into uncomfortable skies, flying with you as you navigate new, and sometimes super scary storms, ready to guide you as you fly and ready to push you back up when you fall; but don't forget...an eagle also has powerful talons ;)