We live in a “high touch” world, especially when it comes to parenting. It’s a difficult balance as a parent to strike, right? How to be involved and interested and able to capitalize on teachable moments as they occur, yet somehow how to not cross the line into micromanaging our kids and directing traffic in our family dynamic. It’s a toggle that I find myself day in and day out.
For the last 9 nine years, I feel like my constant attention has been critical to our family dynamic. When you have babies, there is little time to step away, and a close eye and immediate intervention is necessary to prevent injury or harm.
We all know that kids can find a way to hurt or get into trouble if left alone for too long.
When our kids were little, I felt like my every minute was consumed by following them around, at least loosely. And this was out of necessity! It’s not like you can turn two 18 month olds loose at the park, put your head down for a nap, and expect that to go well.
As our family has grown, and our kids are getting older, I am finding more and more that my constant and close micromanaging of my kids and their dynamic is unnecessary. This is not to say that I am not constantly aware of my children’s whereabouts and their safety, or that I am at all ignoring them – I don’t think I am capable of that anyway, as much as many times it actually sounds really appealing – but more that obsessing unnecessarily over managing the dynamic in our house is only to my detriment.
Take the other night, for instance. It was a Monday (I hate Mondays, but more on that another time), and Justin was out at a work event. I felt like the entire evening was a ping pong match, with me somehow bouncing back and forth between helping my older three kids with homework, making sure Quinn was entertained with something to play with while they worked, and then working on dinner, trying to somehow parent manners at the dinner table, and cleaning up from feeding time at the zoo.
As the evening wound down, we all headed upstairs to get ready for bed. Suddenly, I found myself intervening in two disagreements that had ensued upstairs, both between my twin boys (not out of the ordinary). I sat on the floor with them, trying to talk through what had happened. There were tears, there were physical backlashes, and there were accusations thrown around. It was exhausting and mind-numbing at the same time, trying to get to the bottom of what had happened. And, to make matters worse, the whole time I was talking to them, in the back of my mind I was worried that Grace and Quinn were somehow floundering elsewhere in the house. After the tears were mitigated, and the boys wound down and finally fell asleep, I made my way down the hall to Grace’s room, where I was sure to encounter a lonesome child, or some act of disaster or disagreement.
And, when I opened her door, I saw this.
This moment was such a beautiful and gorgeous reminder that my kids are just fine. Just a reminder that it is not my responsibility to micromanage the dynamic of my family. As my children are growing older, they are getting so much out of their relationships with each other, and this has nothing to do with me. They are developing rich and fruitful bonds that will continue to deepen and bear fruit long after I am gone.
As I stood in Grace’s doorway, watching her read a book to Quinn, I knew that she was totally unaware of what I was dealing with down the hall. All that time distracted and worrying that Quinn was lonesome or causing trouble in the other room – it turns out he was just spending time with his sister.
At that moment, I vowed to stop allowing myself to be consumed by the momentary status of each of my children. Of course, this is not advocating for ignorance, but more for allowing the priorities of each minute to be dealt with, with a trust that magic could be happening elsewhere.
Sometimes, we all just need to get out of the way.