When Mom Can’t Fix it

Posted Sep 27 2012, 7:34 am in , , , , , , , , ,

As a parent, we want to protect our kids. Obviously.

When they’re newborns, we buy the best car seat we can afford and obsess about buckling it in properly.

When they start crawling, we frantically run around the house putting corner protectors on the sharp tables, and jam plastic outlet protectors into every visible socket.

And then all of a sudden those babies become toddlers and we hold their hands as they cross the street and we teach them to look both ways.

Of course. That’s what we do because we’re parents and we protect our kids.

But when they enter school, all of a sudden it’s a whole new world.

There was once such a time when if your daughter came home in tears with a skinned knee, you could kiss the owie and make it better. But now, if your daughter comes home crying, because her BFF decided that maybe Best Friends Forever didn’t include today, you can’t fix that. There are no kisses to fix that owie.

And this is my problem. I’m a mom. I want to fix things. I want to make it better for my kids when they’re hurting. I want to protect them from everything that is happening and everything that ‘could’ happen.

And the truth is—I can’t.

I can’t stand next to my children with my arms crossed, glaring at every kid who ‘might’ pick on them. I can’t follow them around and tell them what to say when they’re having an argument with their friends. I can’t. And I know it.

This week (and yes, there have been other weeks) my ten year old daughter had drama with a friend. Raise your hand, who has NOT experienced girl drama at some point?

What? No hands up? Shocking. (Said with A LOT of sarcasm)

We’ve all experienced it. And it sucks. If you’ve ever fought with a friend—either as a child or an adult—it makes you feel a bit nauseous, maybe a bit overheated, like you want to put your head down and disappear. Kind of like having the flu.

And, because we’ve ‘been-there-done-that’ we might have a bit of advice to give our daughters. Maybe, something they can say to their friends, or some way they can behave or maybe something they can do that will fix things and maybe, just maybe…help them avoid the drama all together.

So, we talk. (At least I do) I talk and talk and talk until I’ve given all the advice I can and I’ve heard her side of the story and I know there’s at least two more versions of that same story, and then…I do nothing.

Because what else can I do?

I. Can’t. Fix. It.

As much as I want to, I can’t. And that’s when it sucks to be a parent. That moment where you realize that you can no longer protect your children from all possible pain and trouble.

So what can we do?
Maybe someone else has a better suggestion (and I’m open to suggestions), but this is all I know right now:

  • We can prepare them to be the best people that they can be. Does it always work? Um…no. Sometimes they most certainly aren’t the best they can be. Sometimes they’re downright rotten. But hey, that’s part of growing up, right?
  • We can talk. We can share our experiences. Give them advice and guidance and maybe even suggestions for those sticky times.
  • We can listen. This one may be most important. Sometimes it’s what your kids are saying. But sometimes, it’s what they’re NOT saying.
  • Love them. Obviously. Love them hard.

Sometimes it’s difficult. And sometimes I long for those days when all it took to protect my little darlings was a five point harness. But this is part of growing up. For them. And for me.

So…any words of wisdom or commiseration? Girl drama? How can we help our kids through



17 responses to “When Mom Can’t Fix it”

  1. I think we need a glass of wine.

  2. This is probably the hardest part of being a parent. I think Leanne has an awesome solution ~ and some chocolate.

    Talking to them is absolutely the best thing you can do. Actually, listening is probably even better. Letting them know you’re there for them, but willing to let them sort out their differences is huge. You’re such a good mom, Elena. When you need a hug, you’ve got loads of friends ready to give you that comforting embrace. Me included.

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Oh, Tameri. I agreee.
      The talking and listening is SO important. It can be very difficult to sit by and watch, but I know it’s important.
      And I am SO thankful for all the friends I have that have been-there-done-that or will at least pretend they have! Priceless.

  3. I think sometimes the hardest parts come when you have to let them make their mistakes for themselves. You see it coming. You try to help, but occassionally (or in my case, often) the only way they’ll learn and grow is the hard way. God love all you moms out there…it’s definitely not a job for wimps! So yes…as said above, Chocolate and wine…must come with the job…along with advil or tylenol for all the headaches you’re bound to get.

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Kitt, that is SO try. The only way they learn is the hard way. But just for once I’d love for them to learn the easy way. 🙂
      Chocolate and wine…
      And advil. You’re SO smart!

  4. Rebecca says:

    I often want to keep them home with me forever, but I have learned so far that being an over-protective parent can hinder as much as help = and it sucks.

    • Elena Aitken says:

      You’re right. it is a fine line. And I’m definitely not over protective, but…some days I really do wish I could wrap them in a bubble.

  5. Louisa Bacio says:

    Oh, so sad. I do try to fix it, and tell them that the nasty girl in kindergarten or 4th grade isn’t all that, and that in the long run, she’s really not going to matter. But to them, it’s so important. Hugs!

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Louisa, thanks so much for stopping by!
      Wouldn’t it be nice if our kids listened to us when we said those things? And then I remember my mom telling me the same things and I didn’t listen either. I guess it’s all part of the circle…

  6. gingercalem says:

    Oh goodness, such a tough situation that definitely calls for wine, or maybe a honey whiskey. 😉 I’m that mom who wants to make heads roll. I want to barge into houses, crash through walls, and give little twerp kids a good piece of my mind in front of their parents. But I don’t. (usually) Your way is the best way. Talk. Listen. Hug. And then take her for a mom/daughter pedicure and buy her something completely awesome that she can flash around in front of ex-BFF tomorrow that will make her drool. Oops, did I slip back into immature mom.

    Hang in there! With you as a role model, I’m sure everything will turn out beautifully wonderful. 🙂

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Ah, thanks Ginger. 🙂

      The worst part is (or maybe not the worst part) is I KNOW my baby isn’t all innocent. She definitely has a few things to learn too. But I just want to make them hug it out and tell them that they will need their friends to get through the tough stuff later, so why don’t you all just be NICE to each other!?
      hugs and listening. For sure.

      I love that you slip back into immature mom. LOVE it!

  7. […] Aitken talks about how as a mom, sometimes we can’t fix it. For me, this is one of the hardest things about motherhood –knowing when to let go and let […]

  8. it is so hard to let them live their lives and solve their problems, but I think it’s a good learning experience for us moms. As our girls get older the problems become bigger and they need to know they can count on us for support and love and caring and non-interference. (unless we’re asked, of course). Practice at this stage made me a much better mom for my now adult children.

  9. Love this!!! I feel like I could have wrote it. Talking, listening and loving them super hard! So glad I found your blog!

  10. Rebecca Stanfel says:

    I love this post, and it is so relevant for me right now. My 8 yo is working through some stuff right now that I cannot do for him. I can be there *with* him, but I can’t do it *for* him. So I am fighting down my maternal fix-it instinct and taking a few deep breaths. Thanks for the clarity!

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