I used to worry that my kids were a little “too” independent.
Their father left while I was still pregnant with our son and our daughter was barely four years old. Once the boy was born, that four-year-old little girl took to her role as “Mommy’s helper” immediately. She turns 10 this week (Happy Birthday, my love!), and people tell me all the time that talking to her is like talking to an adult.
It’s true. She seems wise well beyond her years, and can carry a polite and intelligent conversation with anyone. She does her own thing much of the time (and has for years) – from schoolwork to chores to getting herself ready in the morning, even making grocery lists and cooking dinner. (She’d do the grocery shopping too if she could drive, I’m sure!)
Sometimes, when she goes about these things on her own, I’ve been concerned she’s not spending enough time just being a kid. I worry (as single parents often do) that she feels she HAS to step up and act more mature. But then I watch her goofing off with her brother on the playground or making up dance routines with her friends and she’s a kid again.
Recently, my son broke his leg and was wheelchair bound for the better part of two months. Of course, my daughter stepped in to help, pushing him around everywhere we went (and the wheelchair did not stop us from being out and about pretty much everywhere we normally would).
A few weeks ago, he was allowed (with a special shoe over his cast), to start putting some weight on the healing leg. Well, that’s all he had to hear! We took a short walk to the park nearby, and I brought wheelchair in case he got tired. Little did I know he would insist on not only walking the whole way, but pushing the wheelchair himself!
When friends commented that he’s “stubborn like his mother,” I realized that my children’s independence is not something I’ve forced on them. It’s something I’ve demonstrated. So, to those friends who thought you were cracking a joke, know that you made me smile, but not just because it was funny. Maybe my kids being “like their mother” isn’t so bad after all.
Stacy Lamb of Apex is the divorced mom of two. She is an active member and former organizer of Single Parents of the Triangle. Find her here monthly.