Sorry, Not Sorry
Parenting is hard. Can I get an amen? This generation of kids faces so many threats on so many fronts that parenting and raising up children who are kind and present and strong while keeping them safe from cyberbullying and sex traffickers and people in our own country’s leadership feels like a never-ending game of Whack-a-Mole.
I honestly don’t know the best way to go about doing this whole thing. So if you have any insights or wisdom, please share. I do know that I have to stop assuming that other moms are judging me. Maybe they are, and probably they aren’t, but regardless, I have to do what is right for my babies without that casting any kind of aspersions of someone else’s parenting. I have to remind myself that different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong.
If I were to fall into a parenting stereotype, it would be Helicopter Mom. I always have eyes on my kids, or I am positive that someone I trust does. Yes, even in my backyard in the burbs. Which brings me to my main topic of shame and doubt: I am anti-sleepover. There, I said it. My oldest is just getting to that age where it is socially acceptable, and while I do not judge you in the least for having a sleepover for your child or allowing your child to go to a sleepover, if you invite my kid over for one, I will probably decline. Unless you are someone I am beyond a shadow of a doubt sure would die trying to save my kid first, I can’t give the okay.
And to me, that is not a slight against your parenting but a realization that that is too much to put on other people especially people who aren’t family, have their own children, and don’t know and love my kid as well as I do.
I know that is a lot to ask, so I am not going to ask that of you by accepting that kind of invitation.
I know sleepovers are in a lot of ways a rite of passage, and I can remember having so much fun with friends. I am not dead inside. I wanna be a fun mom, and I wanna trust that while they are with you everything will be fine. But I can’t. At least not right now, and I need you to be okay with that. I need to not be sorry about it. I need you to know that I like you and your kid, and we--you and me and our kids--can still be friends. And that maybe someday, you know, after the background check and P.I. report, we can readdress the slumber party issue. I kid...but seriously.
I have felt shame about this. I have felt judged whether real or imagined. I have tried to reign in what I thought were neuroses that I alone struggled with. But in light of recent missing persons cases in my relatively safe state, I think it’s time to stop doubting my instincts. Maybe I am a little crazy. Maybe the odds of something like that happening to my kids are slim. Maybe I am smothering, and maybe my kids will hate me someday because of it. I can handle all of those scenarios. I am comfortable with being the Hover Mama if it means I am sure my babies are safe.
I also need to decrease the stigma of the word sheltered in my own mind.
Sheltered does not have to be synonymous with naive or dumb or codependent. Maybe it could just mean covered, safe, protected until they are ready. The precautions I choose to take for my children do not negate the fact that they will be taught, informed, and given the opportunity to be independent. It means my husband and I will decide what that looks like until they can for themselves.
Having said all of that, I know I have to also continually struggle toward trust, not of humanity but of Deity. I know this seems super contradictory to all the Mother Hen stuff I was just spouting, and in some ways it is.
How can I renounce the shame of doing what I think is best to protect my kids while acknowledging that I am not even really capable of the task in the first place?
I know God is in control. He is sovereign. He loves my babies far more than I could even fathom. Whatever He wants to happen in their lives will happen, and there is not a thing my worrying and hovering and strategizing could do to prevent it. I may not like it, but it does not change His character or mar His goodness. He gives, and He takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
But...(Oh no, she didn’t just follow Job with a but...yes, yes, she did)...He has given them to me for this time, and as long as He gives me breath, I will be a good steward of that gift in the way I feel lead. I will protect and hover and graciously say no to kind, well-intentioned invitations. I will pray and pray and pray that we will become a generation of parents who pray for our kids and for their friends and for each other because I don’t know what else there will be to cling to in this world as they grow.