I know all mothers worry about their children’s safety, but I have a feeling that I’m a little bit neurotic about it. When my children are babies, I have to check on them to make sure they are still breathing in the night. And even my timid first child (who is now three) is always ready to venture out and try new things before I’m ready for her to.
We’re in a new town and a kind woman invited me and some other mothers with young children to meet at a park so I could meet some new people and get out of the house. The park has a walking path that runs along a ditch/irrigation canal thing that has a long steep slope and may or may not have water in it, depending on the time of year.
When I go to this playground alone, my daughter happily plays on the slide the whole time. But when other kids were playing they were all playing around the ditch—picking cattails and climbing up and down the steep slope. While I should have been trying to get to know some other mothers, I was really holding my breath and keeping my eye on my daughter who kept venturing farther from me and closer to the ditch. The far end of the ditch had large bushes which my daughter eventually disappeared behind.
I left the group of mothers, found my daughter, and told her not to go near the ditch or out of my sight. Sounds reasonable to me. But the other mothers were letting their children climb around the ditch and play where they couldn’t be seen. Some of the other children were much older, and those that weren’t had older siblings who were (maybe?) watching out for them.
I felt bad for taking her away from the fun the other kids were having (though soon after she came back to the slide, the rest of the kids joined in). But I let her run through the sprinklers and jump in the mud puddles. I let her slide down the slide with five other kids getting all smashed up in front of and behind her.
Were the other moms more laid back because they’ve been moms longer? Was I being overprotective? Will I relax as my daughter gets older? Or am I just neurotic?
Even if I am deemed overprotective, I may not change. I try to stretch outside my comfort zone in my own life and with my children, but I’m not going to venture into territory where I simply don’t feel good about something. And I always have my husband to tell me to relax and let kids be kids.