This past year, my husband and I decided to take our children on two family vacations – Hawaii and Costa Rica. We had traveled to both locations prior to having kids and wanted to share the amazing experiences with them.
My husband, Ken, calls me a helicopter mom. I say I always err on the side of caution. All the kids are still in 5-point harness car seats (even though Lilliana, my 6 year old, protests greatly). We eat non-GMO, organic foods. You know, I’m one of those moms. I don’t get all preachy and tell other people that what they are doing is wrong. But, I have on more than one occasion, and I do tell my husband what he does wrong.
Fast forward to Hawaii at Christmas. We decided to hike. When I say hike, I mean 6 miles and 100 floors of elevation according to my Fitbit. I was scared. I was worried. Ken told me we could do this. It would be an amazing experience. No guard rails. No tour guides. The boys in the ergos on our backs, and my sweet Lilliana would be hiking on her own. I told him he was crazy. He told me to let go. I did. And we did it.
Next up was Costa Rica. We decided to go horseback riding. The problem is two adults and three kids. What do we do? “They are too young,” I said. “They need to be with someone.” Then the concierge said it… “The minimum age to ride a horse is five.” He said it right in front of my I-want-to-be-a-jockey-and-own-my-own-horse daughter. My husband Ken, bless him, agreed. And the whole time, I screamed to Lilliana, “hold the reigns,” “you are going too fast,” “be careful!” Then I gave up. Ken told me to let it go. I did. And we did it. She did it.
The end of trip was the zip lining. Lilliana had done it tandem last year and had told her brothers all about it. We decided to try out a new place that would have us above the trees and close(r) to the hotel vs above canyons and a far(ther) drive. I was so anxious. I was super nervous. My kids could fall to their death. They could slip out of the harness. Ken said fear was written all over my face. On the first platform, we watched the first guide head to the next platform. Then the remaining guide (and yes, I wondered how with three kids would we go … would we each take a kid?) hooked Asher, my pensive one, and let him go. We watched him hover over the trees. He giggled. He laughed. My heart raced. Lilliana was next. Then my baby Boden left. And Ken and I looked at each other. He told me to let it go. I did. I watched their smiles. I watched their giggles. We did it. They did it.
Too often I find myself holding my children back. I don’t let them go too far up a slide. I scream for them to be careful. I hover. I hover way too often. I realized these last few months that I really do need to let it go. I need to let my sweet babies spread their wings. They were already flying, but I was holding them back. I wonder how much is too much as a mom. When do I guide? When do I sit back? It’s such a learning experience. I have been taking it one day at a time.