“Momma, I want to go play with those girls over there, but I’m nervous.” My 3-year-old son studied the older girls on the playground and would start to walk over before turning around when his nerves got the better of him. He turned to his twin brother, “I want to play with those girls, but I’m nervous. Will you come with me?” he asked. His brother sighed and let out a “sure.”
They smiled sheepishly at each other and began to walk over. I retreated to a bench nearby, my momma heart in knots as I let my boys figure this one out on their own. The girls were a few years older dressed in their ballet costumes and confused as my two boys asked if they could play with them. They all sat and talked for a minute or two. The girls turned around to play and my boys quickly followed. A minute later, they walked back towards me with their heads hanging low and a silly smile on their faces.
“They don’t want to play with us. They think we are babies.” I told them that I was proud of them for being confident enough to walk over there and put themselves out there. I know that can be scary, but that is a very big boy thing to do. And sometimes when you do that, people want to play. And sometimes, they don’t. And that’s ok too. I reiterated again how proud I was of them and they quickly ran off to play with each other.
I wanted so badly to walk them over there, ask the girls to play with them, hover to make sure the girls were being nice to them at all times, and vice versa. I wanted to momma bear the heck out of that whole situation when I saw how nervous my baby boy was, but I didn’t.
Y’all…Sometimes Momma Bear needs to be benched.
I will gladly admit that like most moms I want to make every experience as happy and as pleasant and as painless as I can for my children. But, I also realize that letting them take risks on their own will teach them so much more. Failure gives character. Learning that you might not get what you want and how you want it is a lesson best learned young. My boys showed me they were ready to navigate a new situation independently and they also showed me that when it didn’t go their way, they could handle rejection with grace and move on quickly. I’m so proud of them for both of those things. And, it taught me that they don’t always need their momma to figure it out for them.
I think today was a building block for my boys and for me. They will have plenty of situations when they need Momma Bear to show up, and they will have situations when they need her to take a seat and let them fend for themselves. My new momma prayer is “God grant me the wisdom to know the difference!”