The super fun part of motherhood is that just when you think you have one stage figured out, your kid flips the script and you need to re-group. As a newborn, my daughter was completely dependent on me. Now, as a preschooler, she’s confident in her own independence, and wants to do everything herself. Me? I’m trying to find my inner chill to let her do a few things solo.
Yes, I micromanage. I hover. I twitch when the crayon goes outside the lines, and I send magnetic sand only to the children of my enemies. Look: I am human. With faults. Becoming a mom is realizing you’re entirely responsible for the survival of another human – a human you love more than you’ve ever loved any human. So when you suddenly need to chill out a little and let your child do some things without becoming a creeper? That’s a pretty big ask, Universe.
The other day, I was attempting to make homemade pasta. (I know what you’re thinking: WHHHYYY?!) and my 3-year-old daughter flounced into the kitchen. In her cape and cowboy boots, I could see she was really feeling herself, and was ready to take a break from training unicorns to help me make this pasta.
Now, if you’ve had the experience of very definitely not wanting a preschooler’s “help,” you know the feeling I had.
But I allowed her to wash her hands and join in making the dough. When she added an extra cup of water, well, I’m not proud of my reaction. The control freak in me came alive. I could see on my daughter’s face that she felt terrible. I apologized to her, she tearily accepted, and we moved on. By “moved on” I mean I felt terrible for the rest of the day, worried that I’d permanently crushed the spirit of my very sweet and loving little cowgirl-superhero-unicorn trainer.
And then I heard her tucking Barbara into bed.
Who’s Barbara? She’s my daughter’s Bitty Baby and she’s named after one of my mom’s best friends. (I know: a baby named Barbara is a huge LOL.) But, more accurately, she’s my daughter’s Baby Baby. Barbara has basically become a 100% real member of our family.
If you’re not familiar, Bitty Babies are newborn dolls for preschoolers by American Girl that help foster important playtime values like kindness and care for our littlest “mommies.” Think: empathy, and comfort just as much as imaginative silliness.
But back to Barbara’s bedtime.
Hearing my daughter tenderly sing a lullaby to Barbara as she tucked her in brought on those tears that had been waiting to come out all day.
So, as I watched and listened to her take care of her baby, here’s what I want her to know:
You’re a champion lullaby singer
Listening to you tuck your baby into her bed at “night” is a sweet moment of joy. Rocking Barbara to sleep and patiently allowing “one more song” melts my heart every time. And it lets me know that all the nights I felt like I wasn’t patient enough, didn’t really matter.
You’re an exceptional boo-boo kisser
Watching you tend to your baby’s little hurts assures me that you are every bit as kind and caring when you think I’m not looking as when you know I am. I’ve watched you gently talk to your baby about how important it is that she keeps her body safe. You show just the right mix of tenderly caring for her and encouraging her to try again.
You’re a pirate-princess-superhero-role model
When you’re feeding Barbara her snack (which, by the way, is stinkin’ adorable) I love hearing you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. I love hearing you tell her how proud you are of her. Watching you take her with you on every living room and backyard adventure – tromping through enchanted forests and sailing the pirate seas – is an inspiration. And when you let me “help?” My heart melts.
You’ll always be my baby, and I’ll always be your mom, but you’ve taught me so much. You’re always watching and listening but I’m the one who’s learning.
What does she want to be when she grows up? You of course! Find your daughter’s Bitty Baby and accessories at Bitty Baby. The Bitty Baby brand celebrates the love, laughter, and play that bond mommies of all ages and babies everywhere.