This is a post of my own vulnerable discovery. I have reached a personal, unhealthy level of smothering my children with my love and attention. This is not a post to judge any parenting styles or to suggest there is a 'healthy' or 'unhealthy' way to raise a family. Let me see if I can sum up my most recent 'Spiritual Curriculum' (thank you Belinda Zylberman for my new, curious words for growth:)
Recently, Jake and I have felt the stress of our life consisting of about 30% work and home life and what feels like 70% BASKETBALL! All three of our children are in 'select' programs. All that means in my opinion is that we have taken the sport to an unrealistic level of commitment and we will share a community life with the same kids and parents for the next 8 years. Now this might seem like a good thing since we live in a community of lovely people and awesome kids. But, just like anything else in life, too much of anything can be unhealthy!
I recently had two incredibly bonding situations with my kids and Jake, that have got me turning within to reflect on the balance in our lives. One was a family photoshoot that we do every year to send out a message of love and inspiration and the second was our first Live Everything Mindful event centered around the topic of relationship. I observed that after both events, my kids were bonded more than the norm and that all of us seemed to be in a state of not wanting the night to end. Bonded like we went on vacation and they can't get enough of each other whether it be playing or snuggling. After sitting with this observation for a while, I had to ask myself, why isn't this the case with all the kid's different sporting/school events that are geared towards bringing the families together? Whether it be a trip to the beach for basketball or a local tournament, it seems that we all end up more depleted and distant from each other afterward? This had me taking a deeper look at our reality and a conversation with my mother, into the differences between when I was a kid in sports and why today seems to be so out of balance for me.
My mom mentioned that Sunday used to always be a day of rest and no sports when we were growing up. Hmmm...a day of rest? That sounds enticing! I also remember being able to go on family vacations without feeling like we would be left behind athletically or not be played upon our return because of lack of our level of commitment;) So if these aren't spoken rules, then why do I feel FOMO (fear of missing out) and anxiety when it comes to my kid's activities?
One word...SHOULDS!!! I should all over myself all the time;) "Everyone else's parents will be there, I should be there. What if they are uncomfortable and they need my help, I should be there." Here's where I discovered my biggest realization...trying to control my children's level of comfort. I have my kids so comfy at this point, juggling all their emotions for them, that they could probably blissfully sleep their way through the rest of their childhood.
I heard a term recently called 'Snow plow parenting'. I've heard of 'helicopter parenting', but this was a new term to me and exactly what I have a case of. I am going through life convincing myself (and assuming) that my kids need and want me to go to every event. That they need me to siphon through all their interactions and process and predict the comfortable outcome of all of them. They have very rarely ever had to be in the position to be at an event and be the only kids that don't have their parents cheering them on. They have never had to ask us to be at an event. What started as us going to their events out of joyful excitement, has now turned into 'shoulds'. It goes without saying that we have enjoyed watching them play their sports. It also goes without saying, that we enjoy it so much, that our level of commitment as parents may be giving them the message that we want it for them. What if they want to stop playing one day? Would they want to break our heart? (dramatic, I know;)
Jake and I come from two different backgrounds when it comes to sporting and celebration support. He had a single mom that wasn't able to attend a lot of his life activities and I on the other hand, almost always had someone there cheering me on. He played because he wanted to, and very little external pressure played into his decisions. Where as, I learned that I needed an audience at all times in order to perform and I got pretty bratty when someone didn't show. We thought we were raising our kids in the middle until I recently processed with my youngest and to my surprise, we are almost touching my end of the spectrum;) I'm not trying to paint this as a bad thing. It just feels like a time to reboot and become more mindful on this subject for my own spiritual healing.
We sat down as a family and had a discussion around this and we told the kids that we are taking their schedules off our phones and we are making a shift to them putting the events on the calendar that they want us to attend. They are going to begin inviting us to what they want to share. If they asked, we would likely go to everything possible, but I would like to shift from attending out of shoulds, and instead to attend out of a request and joy. Here's to the new awareness and working on our balance of creating more family bonding experiences instead of spending time snow plowing a comfortable path for our children. As a result already, the kids took Jamie to tonight's school dance where he needed a chaperone, and asked his siblings;) Letting go of FOMO... HERE WE GROW AGAIN!