Mothering is a tough job. Every day we are faced with multiple challenges. We start our days sleep deprived. We have a long to-do list to prioritize, that with every passing moment gets longer and longer. A mother is constantly weighing the consequences of their child’s actions. If they fall from there, will it leave a mark? If I make this for dinner, will they eat it? If I stand my ground, is it worth the fight? When a mom is out in public, these decisions are put on display for the world to see, and pass judgment on her mothering skills.

Recently I took my 3-year-old to see the SING Movie. It was so much fun. I love our dates together. Whenever our mother-daughter relationship is feeling strained, or she is a little jealous of Lil Sis, a mommy and me date can usually do the trick! It was a rainy weekend, hubby stayed home with the baby. Cora and I got popcorn and M&M’s and watched all the little animals sing and dance. We were in the front row, it’s our preferred area so when she wants to stretch her legs she can.

In the second half of the movie, she got a little antsy. I let her dance around and climb on the railing. I had a choice. I could be a “helicopter mom’ and tell her to get down. I could tell her to sit in her seat. I knew both of those options would end up in a meltdown and her wanting to leave. If she melts down I become the mom who shouldn’t have brought her child to the movie, or the mom that can’t “control” her kid. I chose to let her be little. Let her have a break, let her dance to the fun songs. To not worry about the others around us and only what I thought was good for her. She was being quiet and the theater wasn’t full. I was right there. If anything happened I could catch her.

WHOOPS! Right as I let my guard down, my poor girl flips head first over the bar, falling face first onto the lower level. She was fine. Shaken with a fat lip. Crying, but okay. I now doubt my choice, but I want her to have the opportunity to have these accidents in a safe manner. I wish I would’ve caught her. I’m lucky she landed the way she did. I know it could’ve ended worse.

It’s hard to make these choices for our kids every day. Decide their limits. Sometimes we miss the mark. Sometimes we lose our cool. Some days we look away at just the wrong moment. I believe every mother knows their child and what their limits are. We all want to do right by our little ones. In this moment I felt like a failure. I was embarrassed but knew I didn’t have time to let myself be upset, I needed to tend to a crying 3-year-old. I had to get her calm enough so I could get back to our seats to grab my purse, so I could get her out of the theater. My mommy guilt swallowed me wholly by the time we were to the car.

I had to run to Target on our way home, so of course, I had to get her a toy to make her feel better. To make me feel better. Every time I looked at that little face, with her fat lip little smile, my heart ached a little more. I reminded myself how lucky I am that there were no stitches or ER visits. My first big boo-boo. I still shake my head writing this in judgement of myself. We are so hard on ourselves as mothers to protect them every second.

I will go forward, I will make more mistakes. There will be more ouchies on my watch. Hopefully, they will all be as minor as this one. I stand strong though, when she is with me I will let her be a kid. I will continue to let her explore and test her limitations. After all, she will only be a child once. The world will only be new and exciting for short time, and I don’t want to steal that from her. So to all the moms out there who let their kids fall, I’m still with you. We can’t learn to get back up if we are never down.

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