Yesterday I took Sauce and Yoshi and went to go visit my second mom Linda. I met Linda when I was in my early teens. I had loved horses my entire life, and here was a woman who had an entire barn full...in two sizes!! As time went on I spent more and more time at Linda's barn. She gave me riding lessons on her insane Arabians and I went with her all over several states showing the miniature horses. After a while of trying to keep Seri out of Linda's things in the house she suggested we take Seri out to the barn. I somewhat reluctantly agreed.
I love horses, I also love the barn, but I even more love my tiny daughter all in one piece! Still, I clambered in the golf cart for the tearing ride up the path to the barn with Seri shrieking in glee as Grandma Linda swerved madly from side to side (also shrieking in glee).
We entered the barn and the magical reaction happened. I could feel the stress flee my body and smile spread over my face, I was home! And then I realized Seri had made a bee line for the nearest stall. Instantly I went in to full protective Mom mode. "Seri be careful, Seri don't touch, Seri get away from there, Seri don't put that in your mouth, etc, etc, etc." Finally Linda laid a gentle but firm hand on my arm. "Nance why don't you just let her explore a little? She'll be OK."
As I stared at my wonderful friend I realized I had become my own worst nightmare. I was acting like the typical interfering parent, not letting my child have a little freedom to experience something new and wonderful. Linda has no children of her own, but I have come to respect her knowledge of human nature and her ability to cut to the heart of an issue and have practical advice. If she said Seri would be OK I trusted her enough to realize Seri really would be OK.
So I buttoned my lip and told Seri to "run, be free" (something an old friend used to say that I always thought was cute) and Seri headed out to explore this wonderful new environment. She examined the stalls, she pet the horses, she tried a little horse food, she tasted the water in the horse buckets (my favorite memory is Linda hanging on to the door of the stall laughing her ass off at the expression on Spudsy's face...he could not believe this small creature was drinking his water), she licked the dog when he licked her, she climbed up, up, and up the sawdust pile and slide down again over and over, she took a chew on a salt lick, and found Grandma's secret stash of soda (and batted her eyes until she got one too), she found lead lines of various colors make excellent boas or belts and stallion chains can be turned inside out to make bracelets or crowns. After two hours following her around and watching her I carried a filthy, exhausted toddler back out to the golf cart for another tearing ride down the hill. As I kissed Linda goodbye I reflected on what a wonderful time we had had together.
I don't know when I turned in to a hovering, annoying, interfering Mom. I always tried to keep my kids safe, but I also always tried to let them explore and experience and be themselves. Maybe it's because I'm older, maybe it's because Seri appears so delicate and dainty (which she manifestly isn't), or maybe I've just forgotten to relax and let go and see things through the eyes of my children. I'm grateful Linda reminded me of who I used to be, I'm grateful I have such a wonderful person and place to share with my children, and I'm most of all grateful to be a Mom. Be blessed my friends!