My husband and I took our kids downhill skiing last week while they were on a long break from school. We were a bit apprehensive about taking our youngest with as we’ve tried to share our love of skiing with her in the past, with less-than-enjoyable results. If I remember correctly, the last few years ended with tears and pleas to never have to do that again.
This year, however, she was excited and said she wanted to try it again. So with hope in my heart, I mentally prepped myself for a day on the bunny hill, potential tears and assumptions that my dialogue for the day would be constant pleas to “just try and see what you can do”.
I’m happy to report that this was our lucky year! As she strapped on her ski’s, she had a quiet look of determination in her little 8 year-old eyes. As we buckled her in and began to make our way, slowly, towards the magic carpet, she shared the most profound advice I’ve quite possibly ever heard.
Holding her hand and providing words of encouragement, she looked up at me and said,
“Mommy, let me go. Stay close by so I know you are there but if I fall don’t help me up, I have to learn to do it myself.”
I looked down at her beautiful face, choking back tears, and knew in my heart that she was absolutely right - and, not just about her maiden voyage down the bunny hill.
As a parent, our job is to support our kids, to try to teach them the way by example and to allow them to have their own failures and successes so that they can learn. As a spouse, sister, daughter, employer, and friend, I know the same advice is applicable in all of our relationships.
Just because we’ve grown up doesn’t mean we are immune from making mistakes. On the contrary, we make them often, especially if we are brave enough to allow ourselves to try new things.
What helps us overcome our mistakes and continue to move on?
Knowing we have support from friends, family, and colleagues can certainly help. Being overly protective (or “smothered”) can have the adverse effect. Instead, allowing some space for the growth to happen is necessary, even if it means they may fall down. It’s in the falling down that we sometimes learn the lesson.
It’s not easy to stand by and watch our loved ones make mistakes or get hurt. Yet, it’s part of the process. Letting them know that no matter how hard they fall, or how many times they fall, that you are still there, can be the most supportive and loving thing you can do.
When we find that we’ve fallen down, it’s our job to do the work to learn how and why we got there. We may reach out for a helping hand, but we still have to pull ourselves up and stand on our own two feet again. Just knowing the support that you need is there might give you the confidence to move forward, regardless of whether you fall on your face or glide smoothly on your way.