Every once in a while I get homesick for my childhood home. Do you? Last week I posted about being bullied as a child and ever since then I’ve been thinking about the freedom I was given as a child (and secretly hoping my kids will have some of the same experiences I was given – and subsequently wondering if I’m give those opportunities to them, or if I am hesitant for fear of what others may think.) It’s also left me wondering if we feel a little bullied as moms in our mothering.
My growing up story
I grew up in the country, about a fifteen minute drive from town. Turn right off a main road, up and down hills watching for deer, then a left up what was basically a dirt road when we moved in and was never really developed after that.
Our property was gorgeous. You could take a walk in the woods and hear only birds for hours (and the occasional moo-ing of cows from the field across the road.) It was at an elevation where sometimes we would be experiencing inches of snow while the town below was having lots of rain. (And afforded us kids the opportunity to ride in a snow plow one of the many, many times the bus couldn’t make it up the hill.)
Growing Up Free
Everyone would head ‘out back’ to our sloping field after a snowstorm…all bundled in scarves, mittens, hats and the warmest coats we could find, our feet stuffed into plastic bread bags, then squeezed into heavy boots. We’d be out there for hours, sometimes joined by Dad and our three neighbors, piling on the toboggan, pushing off and sledding the half-mile to the bottom of the hill where our road tee-ed into the one below.
When we were older we’d climb the one-story wooden ramp our neighbor made and Dad would give a huge push. Our inner tube would go flying down the man-made snow-luge, sometimes flying through the hedgerow and into the field below. (All of that would probably be deemed too dangerous by many now. No one ever got hurt.)
My older sister was a book-worm. Summer days she would leave around ten in the morning, find a tree to climb and sit reading until Dad called her in for dinner at night when it was almost dark and my brother and I had almost forgotten about her. (Some might call this neglect in today’s society.)
My brother would have friends over and they’d climb the wooded hill outside his bedroom window and become pirates or princes and be gone for hours. They would have grand adventures, and the way he’d tell stories about his day you would wonder if they really happened. (Kids having fun without direct adult supervision…)
Parenting sometimes equals judgement
Do you ever find yourself reading posts on facebook about a mom who was judged for the way she was interacting (or not interacting) with her kids? Do you cringe when you hear stories of moms having to deal with child protective services because her neighbors think she should be out playing with her kids instead of watching them play independently in their fenced-in yard from her living room window – extending freedom in a safe, controlled environment?
As moms we want to give our children every experience in the world, but we also want to keep our kids safe and perhaps please others around us so we can keep out of trouble where none should be found in the first place.
I think back on my childhood and wonder what in the world were my parents thinking. Did they have these same irrational fears when we ran off to play and they didn’t see us for hours? I doubt it.
Did they realize at the time how the experiences living in the country afforded me to become the person I am today? Maybe, maybe they didn’t think about it that much or in those terms. Thinking of my view of my parents as I was growing up, parenting has changed a lot since I was a kid.
change our focus
Today is a different world than the one we grew up in. We have different worries and influences that affect the way we raise our kids, while still wanting to give them an entire world of experiences. But even though it is different, we can still give our kids experiences they will remember by focusing on our own children, giving them our best, being present, keeping them safe and raising them to be the best people they can be.
We should be focused on our own kids and the way we are parenting them, not having to worry about what others are thinking about the way we are parenting. And we shouldn’t be focused on what other moms are doing ‘wrong’ or how we wouldn’t do such and such.
Bring our focus back to our children. They’ll be better for it. We’ll be better for it. Other moms will be better for it, too.
Instead of focusing on how others are raising their kids, or being afraid of what others might think of our parenting, focus on the best experiences you’ve had as a child. Will your kids ever have a memory like that? Can you help make one happen?