On Letting Go of Your Baby Into Toddlerhood

Specifically, mine. (Or yours, if you identify with my woes).

I’ve had a hard time letting go of my baby girl into the danger-zone of toddler-hood. Once she started walking I knew there was no turning back and that she’d be into everything. An official danger-baby. Not a stranger to the wild ways of this stage, with a near three-year-old running around – I’ve never really left it.

Some things I HAVE left behind?

Owning The Jungle Gym

Being overprotective. That’s been a big one for me. Once upon a time ago I was that mom who more than cringed at the thought of my baby crawling around in the dirt or the grass. One who’s heart did palpitations when my barely-a-toddler was making an attempt at climbing the jungle gym and going down the slide with reckless abandon. Or messing up their outfit…oh, the horrors!

I still worry about germs and I’d put any gymnastics coach spotting their protege to shame. Like this past week, when my 15-month-old decided that she was going to own the jungle gym. I quenched the urge to keep her from climbing into spots inches out of my reach, keeping my spotting hands stretched out and held my breath, ready to catch her if need be. The pride and joy that beamed out of her sweet little face was unmistakable.

I try to not let my fears inhibit how my little children experience joy. I try to realize that some of my fears are silly and that little ones are very astute. They can smell our fear like a little bear cub and will take on our fears if we aren’t careful. The early years are such an important time in a child’s development, in building their self-esteem and their independence.

I am surprised at times, when I read comments that some other parents make when I write about taking my kids to the farm and letting them slide down a beat up (yes, dirty) old slide. Or when my sanity and care for my once newborn and toddler is questioned from when I took them camping. Or when some parents turn their nose up at the suggestion of feeding their baby messy foods. (Even if it’s to soothe the pains of teething).

Childhood is messy. Joy having is often messy. Clothes get dirty, babies and toddler get dirty – even when stripped down. Adventures are to be had and care should be taken in researching precautions and necessities when going on outings. Especially with the fresh ones.

While I know I’m not alone in these thoughts I truly had no idea that the things I had a natural fear in doing were things that some parents actually deemed WRONG.

I’m not one for getting into the wars on parenthood (and other less than desirable terms), but I sure as heck feel that it’s important to advocate that a good childhood has little to do with remaining sheltered and picture perfect most of the time. I mean, these babies and toddlers? They look cute slobbering all over the place, spaghetti smeared up to their eye-balls, running around half/full-on-naked anyways. Something none of us adults can get away with. We should let them relish and revel in this time a little more, no?

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