"Have faith in your son", and other psychological torture my husband inflicts on me
I thought about titling this post as "Chewbacca's father is an evil genius" but didn't want to let the notoriety go to my husband's head. When I was a brand new parent, like "holy crap they're sending me home with this baby, I have no idea what I'm doing" new parent, I was terrified about almost everything. In the early stages, he was just so unpredictable. When I was afraid to take him with us to brunch or to the grocery store, Chewbacca's dad would ask "what are you afraid is going to happen", and I would respond "I don't know. THAT'S what's so scary, I don't KNOW what he's going to do."
I believe that a little fear is a great thing for new parents. I'd obviously rather be overly-attentive than under-attentive. But Chewbacca's dad was the best at getting me to take some 'risks' and (gasp) go out of the house more often with Chewbaca. I credit him with saving my sanity in those early days, because without his encouragement, I never would have left the house.
But, being the totally hormonal crazy-mess that I was, he couldn't have just said "you're being crazy, go outside." Instead, he simply told me "Have faith in your son". This directive put me in a very difficult position. Because if I refused to go out to get brunch with Chewbacca, it would be because I didn't believe in my son. And what parent doesn't want to trust their child can do something. See what I mean? Evil genius.
So, to show just how much I believed in my son, I would go for long walks, meet up with friends, take 5 hour plane rides with a 2 month old, believing that my son wouldn't totally melt down. And you know what? 9 times out of 10 he was awesome (excluding a pretty epic melt down at the Pour House, which we can all agree was just a terrible idea to begin with).
It's so easy, and completely understandable, to want to help our children with everything that they're trying to do. First, because who wants to listen to them crying, and second, because we want our kids to have the world. But as important as it is to make sure they're fed, nurtured, and cared for, we also need to teach them how to succeed on their own because like it or not, there will be times when we're not around to help them. And when they're on the T for the first time by themselves, or at their first college party, or taking the SATs, it's their self-reliance that's going to get them through whatever life throws at them. It will be the lessons we've taught them to teach them how to deal with failure, because life will surely throw some of that their way as well. So we need to give our children opportunities to fail as well as succeed, and for me, this meant putting MYSELF out of my comfort zone as well.
Now, "have faith in your son" has become a sort of mantra in our house. Right now, we're using it for sleep training and tummy rolling, but pretty soon it's going to be for potty training and eventually homework and driving the car and lord knows what else. Before I rush in to try to help Chewbacca or fix the problem, I try to pause and think to myself "have faith in your son" and remind myself that I'm teaching him self-reliance, and that when he finally does figure out how to reach that toy, he's going to be so proud of himself. Plus, having a nice calm mantra gives me something to think about other than the crying, because no matter how good my intentions are, sometimes you just have to rush in and pick up your baby, because hey, we're still mothers after all.