I Love You for Who You Are Right Now

April 7th, 2011 by Dionna | 29 Comments
Posted in Adults, Consensual Living, Eclectic Learning, Guest Posts, Infants, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, Toddlers

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Yesterday my ten-month-old went down the slide by himself.

For months on our daily outing to the park, he sat next to me on the concrete playing with blocks or balls, watching his older brother run and play. He never went beyond arms reach, in spite of being an avid explorer at home.

But yesterday, he wandered away.

I watched him crawl to the slide, touch the rails, and make his way up the stairs. I moved to be closer.

He stood at the top, looking through the rails on one side, and then the other. He watched as his brother came up, then slid down, over and over. He moved closer to the slide, inching his feet closer and closer to the drop-off, sometimes pulling back a bit.

And then he did it — he stepped out, fell on his bottom, turned over, and slid down on his belly with his feet first.

He looked surprised for a moment, then righted himself and tried to crawl back up, looking like he was doing a workout on a baby treadmill because every inch up meant an inch slide back down.

After a few minutes he gave up, then slowly backed down off the slide, carefully reaching one leg, then the other, behind him until his feet touched the ground.

He spent the rest of our time at the park under the slide, examining the metal of the steps, then running his little hands on the cool smoothness of the plastic slope.

Tears came to my eyes for a moment — my son did something amazing, completely on his own.

I was raised to believe this about children: they need to be controlled, they need to be trained, they can’t figure things out for themselves.

My boys have proved this wrong, over and over.

It was so hard to resist the temptation to help him — hurry him at the top, sit him down on his bottom, and pick him up and take him away to a safer location. It was hard not to coax him up the slide again, to watch him do his new skill over and over again.

But if I had, I would have missed the opportunity to see what he could do. I would have missed an opportunity to let him discover his own capabilities. I would have missed an opportunity to show him I trust him to figure out the things that are important to him, in his life, in his moment.

And I would have missed the opportunity to show him I love him right now, just the way he is.

Photo credit: mary mackinnon

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I am so happy to host a guest post today by Suchada. Suchada writes about natural parenting at Mama Eve. She loves to look at situations from every perspective and discuss the myriad of ways we can be Counterculture Mamas. She has two hilarious boys, born in 2008 and 2010, that keep her on her toes.

29 Responses to:
"I Love You for Who You Are Right Now"

  1. Melissa @ The New Mommy Files   vibreantwanderer

    What a beautiful, yet profound lesson. Thank you, Suchada!

  2. Suchada @ Mama Eve   mamaevetweets

    Thanks Melissa! It took so much for me to just let him go at his own pace and explore on his own. Restraining my natural reaction was completely worth it though. I’m practicing doing it more often, and it’s really amazing what I discover about my children!

  3. janetlansbury   janetlansbury

    Suchada, this is exquisitely beautiful…gave me goosebumps. Thank you for sharing this extremely important lesson so eloquently. (And thanks to your boy for the vivid demonstration of the power of trust!)

    This is a great example of the value of NOT following all our instincts. Some of our instincts don’t bring about the result we are hoping for…a child bursting with confidence; a child who feels eternally validated because he is trusted to play HIS way; a child who knows without the smallest doubt that he is loved, appreciated, interesting, enough.

  4. Suchada @ Mama Eve   mamaevetweets

    Janet, when I think about this experience that’s what I get out of it too. I felt like my instincts served me very well when my babies were little — the drive to feed and nurture them and love them, but as they’ve grown I’ve had to put much more thought into how I interact with them. I’m teaching myself to pause before I react — to anything — to give myself a moment to think about what I the result to be. It has completely changed my relationship with my children.

  5. Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama   ithoughtiknewma

    Beautiful post, Suchada! I’ve been trying very hard to do this, but it’s so hard to know when to step back, when to let them get a little frustrated (i.e., upset), and when to step in because of safety. Right as I finished reading this post, I watched Jac get himself stuck in a weird half crawl/half sitting position as he reached for a toy. I sat back and then he whacked his gave on his wooden alligator. :-( I feel like every time I make myself sit back, it’s the wrong time. I’m going to keep trying though! Your moment is a reminder that it’s worth it!

    • Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama   ithoughtiknewma

      I meant to say “whacked his face” not “gave” – sorry.

    • Suchada @ Mama Eve   mamaevetweets

      Thank you Charise! I have to admit, I’ve upped my tolerance a bit on how much is ok for my kiddos to be hurt. I try to let them explore in relatively safe areas as much as possible so they start understanding what hurts and what doesn’t on their own. I’ve found that allowing them to get some bumps and scrapes gives them a lot of physical confidence — my boys are very aware of what they’re capable of climbing, reaching, and balancing — and what they’re not. In this case, I let Otto make his way down the slide on his own because even if he completely lost control and fell, he wouldn’t have more than a mildly bumped head (there was no danger of him falling off the side), but if he decided he wanted to climb back down the metal stairs, I would have to find an alternative, because he could get much more hurt.

  6. Dawn

    Absolutely beautiful, thank you for sharing this moment!

  7. Jen

    Love this post! It is exciting to just let your boys be boys and see what they come up with! I’ve parented this way for quite a while and it’s exciting and liberating. And yes, I’m one of those Moms who lets their kids climb up the slide at the playground too.

    • Suchada @ Mama Eve   mamaevetweets

      Jen, it’s so nice to know I’m not the only one! Sometimes I wonder if I’m totally nuts for the amount of freedom I give my children, but when I sit back and watch with amazement all the things they can do on their own, I feel a bit better. :)

  8. Gina   thetwincoach

    Suchada, I loved this post! My first thought as I began reading it was how marvelous it was that you simply let your son explore the slide for himself. There was no coaxing or discouraging. I love that you just watched him and took it all in. It is often so hard to do something as simple as that, isn’t it?
    Thank you for sharing!
    -Gina

    • Suchada @ Mama Eve   mamaevetweets

      Gina, it is hard to do something that simple! I’ve come a long way from when my older son was a baby and I thought I needed to teach him to sit, encourage him to crawl, and help him walk. I got a thrill out of doing those things, but honestly, much more out of watching them be themselves.

  9. janetlansbury   janetlansbury

    I’ve been thinking about this post all day. I just want to add that even more than I enjoy hearing about your boy’s adventure down the slide, I appreciate your description of the time he spent under the slide. You’ve reminded me of the many beautiful, peaceful times I spent with my babies, totally amazed that they could see so much in so little…trying to imagine their thoughts…and reveling in the magic of just “being” together. Thank you! :)

  10. teresa   momgrooves

    this is really beatiful. I’ve had to work very hard at not stepping in. You’re so right and your story tells it all.

  11. What a lovely, lovely post. It brought tears to my eyes as I visualized what I read. I’ve gone through lots of moments with my now 13-year old son as he grew up…when the urge to reach out and be protective was strong, and had to be resisted. I have been stupid sometimes, by giving in to the urge. But I did get over that quickly, as I learned that children are amazingly resilient – and I also learned by watching parents who smothered their kids, rather than mothering them :-D. It was easy to figure out what not to do, particularly with a kid as voluble as mine.

    I am heading over to your blog now, Suchada.
    Thank you, Code Name: Mama!

    • Suchada @ Mama Eve   mamaevetweets

      Vidya, I love hearing from mothers with older children, who can validate my efforts. Sometimes I feel so different that I wonder if I really am making the right choices. I want what you have: resilient children, and it’s good to know I’m heading in the right direction.

  12. MomAgain@40   karentoittoit

    What a great reminder. To let them be… and to not always try to “rescue”! Thanks!

  13. Tammy

    This is a beautiful post, both in style and content. Thank you.

  14. Imogen @ Alternative Mama   altrnativemama

    This is absolutely wonderful. I will remember it when I take my boys to the playground. thank you Suchada xxx

  15. Hi Dionna! My “Sunday Special” post features your blog. :-)

  16. karyn   kloppenmum

    Absolutely!
    I think many parents spend their time preparing their children for life, not realising that they are already living!
    Our kids get to explore (and sometimes fall) in their own time and space and are, incidentally, more physically capable than those praised, pushed or protected…

    • Suchada @ Mama Eve   mamaevetweets

      “parents spend their time preparing their children for life, not realising that they are already living!”

      Karyn, one of the most wonderful things I’ve heard said about childhood! Thank you so much <3

  17. Jennifer   Cooperating

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I have four sons myself and I try every day to see them as they are. It is life’s and love’s work.

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