You spend 40 weeks growing these little beings inside you. You feel every kick, every somersault, every hiccup. You dream of their features, their personalities, you choose their name. You provide them with everything they’re going to need on the outside… and yet, as soon as they are born, they’re on a mission to gain independence from you. And this? This is one of the most gut-wrenching things a parent will ever experience.
Sitting up, crawling, first steps… all exciting moments. But with each of those moments comes the realization that your little one needs you just a little less than they did before. The good thing is that these milestones only happen every so often. The bad news is that they sneak up on you like a stealth ninja warrior and before you know it, your child is waving to you from the window of his school bus or ignoring you as you drop her off at the mall to meet up with some girlfriends. (You hope.) And you wonder, how did I even get here?
I am not quite there yet but I am at the precipice and let me tell you, these are scary waters to navigate. My daughter came home with an invitation to her first non-family sleepover party last week and like any 6 year old girl, she was stoked. Absolutely stoked. But then I read the invitation and my heart sank. I didn’t know this girl, nor did I know her parents. I knew nothing about them! There was no way I was going to allow my kid to go to some party with people I didn’t know from Adam. And then I stopped and I thought. I thought about the sleepovers I went on when I was younger. My parents weren’t friends with the parents of those girls… but they still let me go. Crap.
One could say that it’s a different time than we grew up in and yes, you would be right. But when we were children was a different time than when our parents were children and… they still let us go. Knowing that my husband was on the same “No Way” page as I was, I asked my mom for advice and as she always does, she came through. She suggested I reach out to the parents to see if we could meet before making a decision about letting our girl attend the party. Such a simple solution! DUH. Because any normal parent would totally understand and anyone who didn’t, well, that’d be our answer right there. So I contacted the mom – who totally understood – and we set up a time for our entire families to meet. The meeting happened earlier this week and wouldn’t you know it? Super nice people, nice kids, and off our girl goes in another week to her first sleepover party.
But all of this got me thinking. If our parents’ generation was mostly okay with allowing us experiences – even when they weren’t thrilled with them – why and when did our generation become so scared? I was ready to throw this perfectly nice kid’s birthday invitation right in the trash and for what? The unknown. I was scared.
You could say, “Well, our parents grew up in a different time than we did” and you wouldn’t be wrong. But they grew up in a different time than their parents. Every generation has their challenges. And there has always been evil in the world — it’s just at our fingertips now. Literally. We have access to so much information, it scares us.
I’m not suggesting that we let our kids do everything they want to do. Obviously they need to learn about the dangers of the world and boundaries and all that fun stuff but they still need to live. They need experiences. I know a sleepover is a minor thing but I’m so glad I reached out to my mother for her advice instead of just throwing the invitation – and this opportunity for my daughter – away.
Now, will someone please remind me of this post when my children reach driving age?