Mister Man kibon

The Parenting High Wire Act

April 10, 2013 by Michelle

As a parent, I feel so often as though every moment is a pivot point.  If I go left, will it mess up my kids.  If I go right, will they become entitled spoiled brats?  If I stay straight, will they never learn to fail?  And so on and so on.  It’s a constant balancing act, and I feel like I’m a high wire, tiptoeing my way forward, hoping that I’m doing the right thing to support the wee ones, feeling my way inch by inch as the wire sways below me.  Sometimes the wire moves on me, and sometimes it feels as wide as a road where I can saunter along confidently.

I would do anything for the wee ones.  I gave up my career for them because we found that once Mister Man hit kindergarten, he needed the stability of a constant routine that me being home provided – thank you, Autism.  There are days when I miss the mental stimulation and the pride in my work and yes, the paycheck, but I don’t ever regret quitting because I did it for the right reasons.

If one of the wee ones were anaphylactic to anything, I would instantly clear my house of it, even if it were my beloved Nutella.  Were Little Miss bothered by the fact that we can eat dairy and she can’t, I would give up all dairy in solidarity with her.  I’ve driven them to multiple therapies multiple times a week, I pay more for their recreation classes and activities in a month than I spend on myself in six months, and I’m happy to do it.

But that balancing act is tricky.  As much as I want to do everything for the wee ones, there are things they need to learn to do on their own.  They need to develop a sense of pride in themselves and in their work that I can’t build for them.  They need to crave a sense of accomplishment and self-worth that only they can drive.  And so I work on stepping back, and I’m constantly surprised at the results.  Mister Man loves to cook, and he’s thrilled every time I let him do a dish on his own even though I know I can do it faster and better than him… but that isn’t the point.

This past Saturday, I took Mister Man to tae kwon do, and the owner of the studio was there but no instructors.  The owner is a police officer and was on duty so had her full uniform on and was there just to check in on the class before heading back out.  There had apparently been a scheduling snafu and they had called in alternate instructors to help, but it would take them time to get there.  She couldn’t change into her uniform and teach because she had no place to safely lock up and store her gun.

So she took a deep breath and kept the faith.  Rather than canceling the class, she called one of the boys who was the highest rank out of the room and asked him to have the kids start stretching.  The boy walked to the front of the room, called the class to order and proceeded to walk through every stretch they usually do, with all the students following him without a whisper.  The boy took it upon himself to have the class start their punching drills once they’d finished stretching, even though he hadn’t been asked to.

And it was amazing.  For the twenty-five minutes of class before an official instructor showed up, three boys who aren’t even green stripes yet led the class in breakouts by level to teach them.  And the students were as respectful and attentive as I’ve ever seen them – more so, in fact.  They amazed me with their maturity and their ability to do what they were supposed to do without adult direction.

Mister Man kibon

And when they walked out of class, every one of them was beaming with pride.

And I felt that high wire tighten under my feet and steady once more.  Yes, I want to do everything for my child.   I want to stand next to him and point out all the areas where he can improve and help him along where I can fix things for him, but that isn’t right.  It’s so much more important for them sometimes to figure things out on their own and take a leap of faith once in awhile because it’s amazing what they can do when we let them.

What is your leap of faith moment?

Paperback cover of Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

This post is part of the From Left to Write book club where we write posts inspired by the books we read rather than traditional reviews.  I have also written a review of the book Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton on the 5 Minutes for Books site where I am a contributor.  I was not compensated for this campaign, although I did receive a book as part of the review.  All opinions remain my own.


  • Meghan

    Beautiful post! Made me cry. I feel that tightrope every day!

    • Michelle

      Thank you, Meghan! We ALL walk that tightrope, don’t we?

  • jodifur

    It is hard, that balancing act, knowing when to try, and when to let them try.

    • Michelle

      It’s super hard.. and I keep wishing I could just pop forward in time to see how it’s all working out, but I’ve yet to discover that secret.

  • Jennifer Wolfe

    I have had too many leap-of-faith moments to count…but I do know that trusting that things will work out as they should is sometimes the only way I get through the tough moments.

    • Michelle

      That’s part of it, too. What we do only has so much impact because in the end, we aren’t the one making the decisions, as much as we sometimes wish we were!

  • Brenda Bartella Peterson

    Being on the other side of child-rearing, I am not convinced that genetics plays a larger role than our left or right turns. So choose your own parents wisely AND your spouse.


    • Michelle

      I’ll work on that choosing of my parents 😉

  • Thien-Kim

    You have described to a T. It’s a balancing act and moments like the one you witness remind us that we’re doing our best.

    • Michelle

      YES! And those moments are so awesome and so powerful. It’s a great reinforcement when we notice and applaud them, isn’t it?

  • Char

    What a great Mama you are. Your children are so lucky!

    • Michelle

      Awww, you’re so sweet. I hope my children think that when they’re grown. That’s all I can ask for (ok, so I can ASK for more, but it’s all I SHOULD ask for).

  • Pat

    That is fantastic! Those kids stepped up to the plate and did what needed to be done. Kudos to their instructor and also to their parents for instilling the sense of responsibility in them.

  • Trackbacks

  • Trackback from Book Club Day: Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
    Thursday, 11 April, 2013

    […] Michelle at Honest & Truly! is on a parenting high wire act […]

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