Before the birth of my first, I just knew I would be a totally chill free range parent. I would allow my daughter to try new things without interfering and accept that bumps and boo boos were a part of normal childhood. Yes, safety would be a top priority, but I would also never stifle an opportunity for growth or exploration within reason. But then I became a parent. I felt my heart explode with a love like no other, and my maternal instinct to protect this tiny most precious gift took over.
Of course I had seen little ones squeal with delight when their daddies tossed them in the air, but when my husband did the same to our little girl, I promise she stayed suspended for an unusually long amount of time! Was it too much to ask that he only do that over a padded surface? Could we please install a safety net in the area?
Sure, in the past, I had thought monkey bars were a totally reasonable source of entertainment for children. The first time my daughter approached them- those potentially bone breaking bars seemed to double in height. Having a two story home seemed like a good idea, but at what point can I trust her to go up and down the stairs cautiously, using the banister for support without hovering behind her?
There have been approximately 2 million times over my 4 years of parenting when I have held my breath, felt my heart skip a beat, or ignored a knot forming in my stomach in the name of childhood adventure. My fierce desire to protect and keep my baby safe, turned me into an (unintentional) helicopter parent.
My husband, on the other hand, has a more relaxed parenting style. I wouldn’t call him “free range”, but he’s definitely a closer match to the ideal parent I had planned to be in this regard. He’s the fun one. He’s the reason our daughter is comfortable going down “the big slide” at the park or bouncing on her bottom all the way down the stairs of our home. He’s the reason she can do flips, and the reason she knows how to ride her scooter and trike down the hill (helmet required, obviously).
As much as I want to believe reading parenting books and articles makes me the knowledgeable parent, I have to admit, my husband is naturally better at this part. He sees growth where all I can see is risk. He sees opportunity for learning where I see safety hazards. Sure, Lyla has come home with scraped knees after some of their adventures….but she’s also come home with scraped knees after some of our trips to the grocery store. Children are precious. It’s in our nature to want to protect them, but avoiding bumps & bruises completely is just impossible.
So. Make sure you have band aids on hand (preferably in a Doc McStuffins print), and then take a few cleansing breaths to relax. Finding the balance between two styles of parenting can be hard, but I’m thankful I’m not in it alone, and I’m happy to have a husband with strengths different from my own.