I have a confession to make: I'm a control freak. I didn't used to be this way. In fact, pre-kid me was wild and carefree and totally laid back and able to go with the flow. But mom me? Oh, mom me is completely incapable of stepping back and letting things just happen. I want the best for my babies and, more often than not, that means doing things for them. But toddlers can do things by themselves, you guys! They don't need their parents to complete every little task! Who knew, right?!
My first "baby" isn't really a baby anymore, he's 4. And, at 4, my son is wildly independent and wants to do all the things all by himself, without any help from mom. Yes, I am already "not cool enough" to help my child. And that's hard for me, you guys! Sometimes it's incredibly difficult to back up and watch my son do something by himself, especially when he's struggling or getting frustrated.
But letting go and letting my son do things for himself is how he learns, and man is this kid learning. It's incredible to watch this tiny human — a human I grew inside my body and pushed into the world — become independent and capable of doing things without any assistance; incredible in a way that's as awe-inspiring as it is a little sad. But that's part of this whole parenting thing, right? And in the end, it's our ultimate goal: to raise humans who can take care of themselves. So, yes, I am learning to back the you-know-what up and let my kid do things on his own, and in the process have learned that when my son says he's got it, he really means the following things:
"I'm Growing Up Way Faster Than You'd Like"
Like, how are you tying your own damn shoes right now? Weren't you just a helpless newborn, incapable of even lifting your head, like, yesterday? Didn't you just find out you had feet and toes, like, a week ago? It's truly incredible how fast the time flies, and while that's an often regurgitated parenting talking point it tends to hit you out of nowhere nonetheless, especially when your toddler wants to do something all on their own.
"This Is Going To Take At Least 45 Minutes"
Buckle in, mom and prepare for a lesson in patience. Because whatever your child has decided they can do on their own, is going to take at least triple the time it would've taken if you had just done it for them.
"This Is The Only Way I'm Going To Learn"
It's true! I mean, yes, you can and probably should show your kid how to do whatever task they should inevitably learn to do on their own, but at the end of the day the only way they're going to truly master a skill is if they try it themselves. It's hard, sometimes, but as parents we have to learn to back up and let our kids figure things out the hard way.
"Just Kidding, I Really Do Need Your Help"
Ha! Just kidding! And you thought your work here was done! No way, mom. You are, in fact, needed, and this in and of itself is a great parenting lesson: even when your kid thinks they don't need you anymore, they do. Whether they're 2, 12, or 20, there will come a moment when the person they need most, is you.
"This Is Hard & It's All Your Fault"
Someone, anyone, tell me I'm not the only parent who has to suffer her child's wrath when he can't complete a task he truly believes he's capable completing. Please. Because when my son can't do something that he's been trying to master, it is inevitably and without a doubt my fault. I end up getting yelled at for, oh, I don't know, shoe laces not automatically tying themselves or a red crayon not being a blue crayon or some other situation that is entirely out of my control, and it would be annoying if it wasn't kind of entertaining.
"I Could've Done This Weeks Ago If You Would've Let Me"
There have been moments when, having finally given my son a chance to do something on his own, I have realized he was able to do a thing, like, weeks ago. I was so used to doing something for him that I didn't realize he could actually do it himself.
"Look At How Well You're Teaching Me"
I mean, you're doing it mom! You're sharing wisdom with your little one. You are teaching them brand new things, every single day, and the tiny human who at one point couldn't roll over is now doing all these "big kid" tasks all on their own! Because of you! So, yes, be proud of your toddler when they master a task, but also... be proud of yourself. You've earned it.