Today, I went for a walk with my son. We came home from a long day of work and the daycare and pickup, and as we were headed for the house, my son started to yell, “Ousside! Ousside!”
This is our usual debate; he wants to go outside but I’m too tired. He’s so hungry, but he doesn’t even know it until it’s too late. Usually we don’t go outside after we get home because he goes outside for two hours a day at daycare already. To top it all off, the mosquitoes are so bad up here right now, so I usually end up carrying him over shoulder, arms flailing, feet kicking as he screams and cries about wanting to go outside.
But today, I wanted to make my son happy. So, we did it anyway.
Even though I knew it was getting late, and the mosquitoes were coming out. Even though I know the bug spray doesn’t do a damn thing at this time of year, we did it anyway. And we walked, and there were mosquitoes everywhere. But we did it anyway.
Even though I still had my work shoes on, and I knew they were going to get dirty; we did it anyway.
Even though I was tired, and I wanted to go inside and sit down. Even though I was hungry and I didn’t feel good; we did it anyways.
While we were walking, my son bent down to pick up a stick. And my son loves sticks so much right now, more than toys. I don’t even bother buying toys right now because he just wants to play with sticks. And I usually don’t let him play with them because I’m terrified he will fall and stab himself in the eye or in the back of the throat or something else horrific and we will end up in the emergency room. But today I let him.
I let him take my hand and lead me along. And usually I try to take control and guide him instead of going on a wild goose chase. But today, I let him take the lead. And I let him lead me around and walk me from stick to stick, and I let him put together an impressive little collection of sticks, as many as he could hold in one little hand. And I let him lead us to the abandoned golf course path behind the apartments.
And I let him stay out even though there were a million mosquitoes eating me alive, because they weren’t bothering him at all. And he was so happy. And I don’t usually let him carry around a big old stick and play with it or drag it along behind us, but today I did.
Because usually, all I’m doing is yelling at him, or telling him “No,” or making him put down the sticks and the rocks and the toys that aren’t his and there are always all these rules that I am constantly enforcing. And I’m sure there are days, where just like me, my son feels like everything he does is wrong and he can’t do anything right. Or he can’t do anything without being told no or being yelled at.
Related: Put Yourself In Your Toddler’s Shoes
And today, I didn’t yell at him. Not once. I didn’t lose my temper, not at all. Not even for a second.
So I let him take us outside, and when he was tired, I carried his stick for him. And even though he walked too far and I knew he would get tired and I would have to carry him back, I did it anyways. I let him walk too far, anyway.
We did it, anyway.
Even though I already knew all those things and I knew how this story would play out, I let him do it anyway. Even though I’m the mom and I know best, we did it anyways. Even though I knew I would wind up carrying that 35 lb little boy a half a mile home, we did it, anyway.
And my son was so happy. And even though I have a million and one mosquito bites and I’m itchy as all get out, it was all worth it. Because my son was so happy. He had so much fun.
Even though I wanted to rush him along, tell him we were all done and it was time to go inside, I didn’t.
It was amazing to watch him roam around, and let him lead the way. It was beautiful to see him be so independent without me breathing down his neck and stopping him every time he started to do something he shouldn’t. And you know what? When he was done, he turned to me and he told me he was all done, and he asked to be picked up and we walk home. Without the usual fight. Without the typical screaming and crying. Without the all-out-epic temper tantrum of the year and ultimate resistance. We just walked home.
Today, I embraced the moment and let my son take the wheel instead of trying to control every situation. Instead of ultimately taking the fun out of everything, I took the backseat and let him drive, let him do what he wanted, because he’s a toddler and he’s learning how to be independent and he’s trying to tell us what he wants in this world.
I’m a total control freak mom, and I know it! It is so hard for me to let go and just let it be. But today, I did just that. And the hug I got at the end of our little walk was so amazing. It was so heartfelt and sweet and compassionate. Today, I threw my hands up and said, “Why not?” I looked for the reason to do it and say, “Yes,” instead of finding all the reasons to say, “No.” Life is about the little things, and as a working mom, it’s so hard to slow down and enjoy life. It’s too easy to say, “No,” instead of just saying, “Yes,” and embracing what life has to offer. But Today, We Did… And I’m so happy we did.
As always, keep on loving those little ones like only you know how, and this week, take a walk on the wild side and let your toddler take the reigns. The chances are, it’ll be just the change of pace you both need.