But what if.

Last night was a fairly low point in my young parenting career.

It had been a long few days of go-go-go. I haven’t been sleeping much, so by the time the bickering had reached an all-time high on the drive home, my patience, not to mention nerves, were shot.

I slammed the car onto the side of the road and unleashed. I was done and they could walk home, as far as I was concerned.

No, I didn’t make them walk 34kms home. I’m not a total monster.

We drove home in silence.

Me, seething and full of regret, knowing I’d overreacted but too stubborn and angry to apologize.

Them, well, who knows what they were thinking.

As I lay in bed that night, all I could think was “but, what if that outburst is all they will remember of the day?”

When I can’t sleep, the but, what ifs bounce around my brain like pinballs.

I want to let all 3 kids have all the freedom I feel they can handle.

But, what if all they remember is me not being by their side, somehow missing out?

I’m finding that one of the hardest parts of single parenting is not having that partner to bounce all your thoughts regarding these humans you are responsible for off of 24/7. On your own, the littlest things can take up an abnormal about of brain space.

There’s no question that I feel like we’re a team, me and the kids. A unit. When I’m away from them, I don’t feel whole.

But, what if that’s too much pressure for them?

The eldest is (was? he seems to have tapered off) on a “health kick”. He claims to be on a diet; he does a mini-workout that he saw on YouTube and has been biking every day.

I ask him why and what prompted him. His response is that he “wants a six pack and to be a faster runner and biker.”

A big part of me is proud of him for making healthy choices.

But, what if this is because of a negative example I’m setting? That time I teasingly poked his little belly? All those times we joke about my “jelly bum”… How many times have I told him that I love him just the way he is?

I want them to have the summer of their dreams. To have the freedom to make their own choices, to make mistakes, to skin their knees, build forts, embrace boredom, ride their bikes, live on popsicles.

But, what if it’s not enough?

I don’t believe in helicopter parenting. I want them to make smart choices and be accountable for their actions.

But, what if they aren’t? What if, by giving them these inches, they are taking yards?

But, what if, you never know, it all turns out ok?

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I’m an enabler.

“Mom! I’m thirsty.  I want some water.” (said standing next to a water bottle).

“I want to go outside, where’s my hoodie?” (said standing next to his jacket hook).

“Have you seen my (insert item here)?” (said usually standing next to said item).

I can’t remember the last dinner we had that didn’t feel like a squat workout.  I wipe more bums than I care to admit.  I’m pretty sure my fitness is due in large part to the fact that we have so many stairs in our house because I am up and down like a yo-yo, retrieving items for kids, or just plain retrieving kids.

But something snapped in me yesterday on the long drive home, as I leaned into the back seat to fix something or give someone something.  I barked “That’s IT!  No more!”

I now have a new goal: no more enabling. How can 3 sometimes fiercely independent little people be so helpless?

Actually, helpless is the wrong word.  So is needy.  I think the actual word is lazy.  And the fact is that I don’t think that they mean to be lazy.  I have just enabled them to be so.  Sometimes, it’s easier on me to do everything for them – it’s faster, things get done my way, my patience gets less of a workout.  So you see?  I’ve taught my kids that if they ask me to do something for them, I’ll usually do it, thanks in large part to my control-freak tendencies and need to get things done quickly.  Voila!  I have created kids who expect me to do everything for them.

So now, I want to teach my kids to take care of themselves, teach them when to ask for help when they really need it and teach them to better help each other.

I think that’s a loftier goal than trying to qualify for the 70.3 world championships.  Training starts today.

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