You can’t protect your children forever

you can't protect your children forever

It doesn’t matter how much you try to protect your children from things that could hurt them, or make them sad. Life still happens. Reality can’t be denied forever. And so, even your children experience lessons that will make them cry, see things that will make them ache, and become a part of things that will hurt them. It doesn’t matter how much you try to shield them from this thing called life.

A few hours after Milin went to bed last night he cried out in his sleep. Both Tony and I rushed in – not because we are over-protective parents, but because Milin almost without exception sleeps soundly through the night. Last night though, in a mostly-asleep daze, he turned down the corners of his mouth and cried. His sighs were full of sadness, his tears fat and heavy.

He fell back into his deep sleep not long after. The dream, perhaps, was over.

I sat by the side of his bed for a while and watched as his chest rose. I watched as he reached for his favourite bunny in his sleep. I watched as he entered another dream world.

Before me was a little boy whose imagination I had no hold over. It didn’t matter how much I wanted to protect him or keep him safe, the fire-breathing dragons and galloping dinosaurs would still be in his dreams.

It made me a little sad, knowing that Milin would feel fear while alone in his sleep and there was nothing, in those very moments that he did, that I could do. My little boy who is three, would experience them on his own.

Of course, I know this is normal, that we all must grow up. But there’s still a part of me that just wants to hold my children to me while the scariest dreams swirl around them. It’s the same part of me that wants them never to feel grief or heartache or terror. It’s the same part that knows, however, that they must.

Because the rest of me, the more rational part, wants to nurture that young imagination that made my child cry out. It wants to help that creative mind grow and give it freedom to explore. But oh finding that balance between between wrapping them up safely against the world and letting them find their adventures in it is hard. It’s another of the internal struggles that makes me question whether I do, in fact, know anything about how to get motherhood ‘right’.

What I do know though is that I believe their young imaginations are a gift to be nurtured, a gift that will take them far. They are also the start of a journey and the start of their freedom. As they find that path that their creative minds want to take them on, they will venture a little further from me with each step. They will walk further out of their mothers’ arms, the barrier between them and the real world of real life as it is will be gone.

I can’t stretch a safety net beneath their feet forever. Instead, I will feel the pang in my heart as they feel fear or learn about an unkind world. I will break to see them sad. But I will also know joy when they set off on new adventures in a new world. It is theirs to discover.

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14 Comments on You can’t protect your children forever

  1. Mama, My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
    June 10, 2015 at 6:29 am (2 years ago)

    This is lovely. It would be nice to just wrap them up in cotton wool and run away with them sometimes!

    #sharewithme

    Reply
  2. Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper
    June 10, 2015 at 7:24 am (2 years ago)

    Oh I would feel so sad too, watching mine be sad in their sleep. It’s such a hard balance, protecting them vs letting them go and experience things, I really get where you’re coming from xx

    Reply
  3. Baby Isabella
    June 10, 2015 at 8:28 am (2 years ago)

    I suffer from nightmares too and my mummy feels the same way, she hates to see me upset but knows I need to find my own way and be strong in certain situations. Sometimes life lessons are hard and painful for both children and parents! But we need to let them learn and experience sad feelings and happy feelings xx a very thoughtful post #Sharewithme

    Reply
  4. Sarah MumofThree World
    June 10, 2015 at 8:53 am (2 years ago)

    Too right! It’s hard to see them feeling fear or sadness, but all you can do is give them their freedom and independence and be there for them when they need you, however big or old they are!

    Reply
  5. Notmyyearoff
    June 10, 2015 at 8:58 am (2 years ago)

    Z is going through a bit of a night terror phase and its horrible calming him down. Luckily they don’t remember most of it but I know what you mean, that cocoon of safety now has bits of fear creeping in and I guess the most we can do is keep assuring them we will always be there x

    Reply
  6. Ali
    June 10, 2015 at 9:24 am (2 years ago)

    I totally get this, it’s so hard having to let go and let them discover the world with us helicopterobg above. I would have my boys stay with me forever so I can protect them but I know that’s just not healthy. It does get easier though. #sharewithme

    Reply
  7. Sam
    June 10, 2015 at 2:10 pm (2 years ago)

    This makes me think a bit of my post on fear in parenting Kiran – just knowing that we have to accept that they will need to take risks to grow and we can’t wrap them up in cotton wool. Definitely a scary prospect. Xxx #sharewithme

    Reply
  8. Katie @mummydaddyme
    June 10, 2015 at 9:31 pm (2 years ago)

    This is something which tucks at my heart strings every time. I know that when Mads goes to school she will lose a bit of her innocence, and I know I can’t protect her forever, but it makes me feel so sad when I think of it. I wish I could keep it like this forever. x

    Reply
  9. Julia @ Rainbeaubelle
    June 10, 2015 at 10:26 pm (2 years ago)

    I know just what you mean, I wish I could protect my kids especially at the moment, but I know I just have to be there to guide them and be there for them when they need me. Luckily they still need me a lot! x

    Reply
  10. Katie LifeonVistaStreet Haydock
    June 10, 2015 at 11:04 pm (2 years ago)

    Another beautiful piece of mummy writing from the heart.
    It makes me sad when little miss has dreams or bad thoughts that I can’t do anything about too – all part of being a loving mummy. We’ll be like this even when they’re 18!
    #sharewithme

    Reply
  11. Jess Paterson
    June 11, 2015 at 11:43 am (2 years ago)

    This is lovely – perfectly captures the challenge of motherhood, to nurture our babies only to let them go. It’s upsetting when they have bad dreams. x #sharewithme

    Reply
  12. Suzanne
    June 11, 2015 at 3:23 pm (2 years ago)

    Isn’t it strange that children this young have nightmares and bad dreams? I sometimes wonder where they get their imagination and fears from. As you say, we can’t protect them or rescue them, we can just be there to catch them when they fall. Which sadly they will do at some point. x

    Reply
  13. Jenny
    June 16, 2015 at 12:58 pm (2 years ago)

    It really is so hard to not try to put them in a bubble. I hate having nightmares about my kids and it happens often and worries and we do have to let them learn the hard ways sometimes but as a parent you never want it to be like that. Lovely post. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

    Reply

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