Friday, February 22, 2013

Do you ever parent outside your comfort zone?

I was reading this great blog today and she ended it with the question in my title. If you have a minute check her blog out, if you have two minutes follow her blog because she is always posting about cute crafty things, life in Australia, life with kids and the challenges of being a writer. Its really good stuff and i always look forward to seeing her blog show up in my google reader.

My immediate response was, "Hell yes!" For me, parenting exists completely outside of my comfort zone. I live a life where I always have to know where the nearest bathroom is in case some tiny bladder should need it immediately, where I walk the fine line daily of what is and is not okay for my sons to do with their privates and where I want to buy them everything I see or hear about that they might like and instead say no to 90% of it so I won't end up spoiling them.

I can certainly say that I have a lot of new skills in my wheelhouse since becoming a parent but I am not sure these skills will ever fall into my comfort zone. Just today I was talking with a parent at school about boundaries for our sons. Her son is 6 and she was explaining that he can't ride his bike alone etc... yet. This discussion came to mind immediately when I read the blog question because letting my sons do anything outside of my eyesight is something I am not comfortable with. However I am beginning to notice that its necessary. My almost 9 year old twins can now ride a half block radius on their own (with many threats and regular recitations of rules) and I even let them go to check if their friends are home (but they can't play at their houses, I don't know some of the parents very well). My 6 year old can play in the yard without me now but I stand in the window and watch and worry while he does (or send his brothers to spy on him) We're trying out this thing where I pick the three of them up in the drop off lane at school, half the time they still get confused and call me from the office even though I am there waiting for them. My main new skill is constant worrying. It makes my husband laugh at me constantly and makes others accuse me of hovering. I don't think I used to be a worrier.

But, I'm beginning to realize that they rely on me a little too much. I LOVE, let me emphasize LOVE, that my sons know they can come to me for anything and everything but I am beginning to realize that I need to create opportunities for them to learn to rely on themselves. Like letting them play where I am near, they are safe, but where they need to figure out their problems on their own. Opportunities where they need to remember their schedule for the day and get where they need to go on the school campus without me. Opportunities to turn in imperfect homework so their teacher can see where their skill set is at, not just where I can get it to with cajoling and bribery.

This part of the parenting life cycle brings me to wonder what a comfort zone even is. Then I think about the fact that we're bringing another life into this crazy mix and my mind starts to go a million miles a minute. Right now my 3 boys are relatively at the same level (I baby the youngest one, but if you've met him you understand why, it's impossible not to!) but I am going to upend their world and their comfort zones by bringing a baby home in June. They are going to have to become adaptable and this baby is going to have to be born adaptable because we are headed towards a lot of scheduling conflicts, lapses in patience, extreme tiredness and who knows what else.

Is it good to get outside your comfort zone every once in awhile? Will we survive everyone being outside their comfort zones all at once? Where's your parenting comfort zone?

1 comment:

  1. Where's my parenting comfort zone? I'm pretty sure I left it somewhere in a bar when I was 29...(I had Dean when I was 30). I haven't been "comfortable" since. I never feel like I know what I'm doing, and I also worry constantly (somehow Joel never seems worried). But Dean's alive, healthy, and seems pretty happy. I must be doing OK.'s so hard to widen that zone and start to let go a little.