Tuesday, September 28, 2010

She's a Very Freaky Girl

Newsflash: It turns out I'm a huge control freak.

I guess there were always signs-- I never liked group projects; I thought that, for the most part, meetings were a colossal waste of time; and I nearly always regretted delegating anything that required brain power (if you want something done right...).

But before I had kids I think I was like Sally Albright-- I was the worst kind of control freak: I was high maintenance but I thought I was low maintenance.

Having kids has forced me to recognize how pervasive my need for control is.

A baby is the ultimate enabler-- you have to control practically every aspect of that little thing's life in order for it to survive. So, yeah, I had a chart to keep track of feedings (and diaper changes). And at least six books on how to regulate sleep schedules (ha!). And baby gates. And outlet plugs.

As the baby grows, the control freak muscle adds additional daily workouts-- keeping track of the whereabouts of every resident of the Little People farm, each Sassy pop bead, and that week's must-have lovey.

Spotting danger becomes a full-time job. I'm convinced that most "helicopter" moms are not so much worried about their children getting hurt as consumed by how angry they will be at themselves for having seen the problem ahead of time and not having done anything to avoid it. Or.... maybe that's just me.

But I'm realizing that I have to be willing to relinquish control in order to let my kids grow up. They now live their lives wholly separately from me for hours at a time. And they are just fine. Thriving even.

I still see danger everywhere (watching my five year old learn how to ride a bike without training wheels was tight-shouldered, clenched teeth agony for me, even though she didn't fall once). And I have yet to make my kids assume control of certain aspects of their lives-- packing their schoolbags and making sure they have the right gear/books/etc is a particularly glaring one. But I'm getting there.

I'm even getting a teeny bit better at controlling myself. The other day I wrote a long email to my son's teacher to give her what I considered helpful information about his work, his personality, and how best to motivate him.

And then I realized that I was trying to micro-manage things. That he and his teacher can-- and will-- figure it all out for themselves. I hit discard. It was kind of exhilarating.

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