Monday, April 22, 2013


children on a wooded path

I tried to appear as if I weren't watching. For the most part, I was engrossed in the end of a good novel but couldn't help peering over my book at my son playing at the creek next to his school. Younger girls were swinging back and forth across the creek on a woody vine. Someone handed him the vine and told him to take a turn. Every natural instinct told me to shout out to him that it wouldn't hold. But he's nine now. When I was nine, I would have swung on that vine. I kept quiet.

For so many years, my primary job has been to keep my children safe. Don't climb too high. Don't run into the street. Hold my hand. After nine years of that, I now let my son ride his bike in the street unsupervised, I leave him alone in the LEGO aisle of Target, and I let him decide whether to swing on the vine. He can handle the responsibility, and I have to let him do it. I have to let him be a little less safe. It's hard.

I spent all of Friday refreshing CNN on my phone, trying to keep up with the events going on only an hour from our home. The news was dominated by words like manhunt, lockdown, and explosives. It was a stressful day.

As I was putting the kids to bed upstairs, my husband heard that the police had located the suspect and he turned on the TV for the resolution. I tucked in the kids, then returned to the TV.

Minutes later, my son called down. A scary image from a book was stuck in his head. "I know it's not real, but it's still creeping me out," he explained. I wasn't sure how to help, but he knew what he needed. All he wanted was for me to lie in bed with him for a few minutes to "make him feel safe."

While police officers were catching the bad guy, I was lying in bed with my son, doing my job to make him feel safe. Maybe that's the best we can do. We can't make them hold our hand anymore, but we can keep the hand there for when they need it.

I've taught my children not to run into the street, and I will continue to teach them how to make good decisions. I cannot always keep them safe--from bad guys or themselves--but I will always do my best to make them feel safe. I will always be the person they can call when things get scary. It doesn't sound like much, but it might be the most important thing I can do.

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I have linked this post at Just Write.


  1. That gave me goosebumps. I have a toddler and an infant and I dread the days when I have to let go a little...I know it'll be really difficult for me not to try and control everything.

  2. I love this! That is our job as mothers. What a lovely piece of writing. :) Popping over from EO.

  3. Hey from SA :) I enjoyed your post ... and I know just how 'it' feels ... it is so NOT easy... this learning to let go thing :( it's a process ... a learning curve of the hurts, it's scary ... it feels wrong but somehow it's right too :) good luck to you and to me... we are going to need it !!

  4. I think, that is one of the most difficult aspects of parenthood to accept- how to keep our children safe but also knowing when to hold back and let them learn to make their own decisions and mistakes.

    Sometimes all you can do (and they need to know), is that you will always be there no matter what and that you'll be ready with a great big hug when they need it most. The unconditional love of a parent.

    Beautifully written :-)

  5. Nice post. It is the most important thing you can do, keeping them safe. Every kid should feel safe with their parents.

  6. I completely agree with this post, beautfully written and something all parents can relate to however I can't help but go back to your post of Cry it out and see such a contradiction - as mothers our job is to keep out children safe and hold them when they need that little shield from the world. To leave an infant or child to cry it out to me defies that role and comprmises that confidence our children have in us, knowing we will always be there, close when they need us close and a little further away when they are ready to face the world alone.