Motherhood is terrifying, especially if you are a first-time mom. Everything is new, and I will never forget coming home from the hospital with my first child, and being shocked that the experts just trusted me to take care of my baby. I had no idea what I was doing, and every single thing terrified me.
The newborn phase was scary and exhausting, but the infant stage and early toddler stage was equally scary. When an infant turns into a toddler, they just want to explore. They want to learn about the world around them, but they seem to lack the developmental ability to judge what situation is safe, and this is what is terrifying.
When my first baby got older and started getting mobile, I was scared of her doing literally anything. I would follow her around like a super annoying shadow, and even though she was only 8 months old, I am sure she thought so too. She was incredibly independent, and she thought she could do anything, and she tried to. She wanted to climb everything, and if I was ever able to catch her doing something, I would remove her.
If she was starting to climb the chair, I would take her down. If she wanted to crawl across a table that she had crawled on, I would take her down. I was a huge helicopter parent, just hovering over her making sure she didn’t get hurt.
However, I have had two more children, and being a mom has changed that about me, and I don’t even know when the change happened. It was gradual, and I am no longer this way.
In fact, I look back and am a bit embarrassed at how overprotective I was when my first was young, and a little guilty wondering if I held her back in any way, and if I did, it was not with malicious intent, but rather I thought (at the time) that I was literally saving her life.
I quickly learned as a mother that “babies bounce.” I know not literally, but it sure seems like they do. I have experienced the moments when I thought that this was for sure a visit to the ER, and they turned around, smiled, and laugh. I have seen blood pour from their lips, and goose eggs form on their heads, and while I am always careful and give appropriate first aid, I have learned to just relax a bit.
Motherhood is busy, and the more children you add, the busier it gets, and it is almost impossible to hover over all your children, especially when there is an age gap. You have one child on one side of the room, and one on the other, and no one can be in two places at once. Motherhood has forced me to be not as fearful, but common sense played a part too.
You see, I also learned that risky play is good for them. My house is baby and child-proof, so there is not really anything that can seriously harm them in my house. Any injuries they get will likely be minor, and I need to let them explore. I need to let them engage in safe, risky play because that is how they learn.
They learn what their limits are, they become more self-aware of their surroundings, and if they take a tumble, they may be scared or even slightly hurt, but they have learned a valuable lesson. They have made an active choice, and have experienced the consequences of that choice and this may cause them to think a bit differently about doing it again.
It is so normal to be afraid of your children getting hurt, but I have learned that if you don’t learn how to cope and loosen the reigns, you are going to cause yourself a lot of stress and worry.
Motherhood gives us enough worries on its own without us adding more to it. Did I hold my daughter back as an infant? I may have, but that is the reality of parenting more than one child, you do learn as you go, and you make different choices with your future children. This doesn’t mean that one “gets it better,” they just get a different experience.
My first child is now 6 years old, and she is just as adventurous and terrifying, but she has learned those limits, and I let her learn them when I eventually backed off and let her explore the world around her in her own way.