Why I Let My Kids Help (even when I don’t want to)

“Can I help, Mama?”

I know these words are coming as soon as I start to open the box. Sigh. The truth is, I really don’t want any help. I know that I can do this much faster on my own, without little hands and fifty bazillion questions and patience… so much patience.

But I look into those blue eyes, and I say yes anyway. Even though I would rather say no.
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It turns out, he’s really good with an allen wrench. He follows my directions, looks for the right pieces, and keeps track of the screws better than I thought he would. And he works hard. Harder than I knew his little three-year-old hands could work.

“I can do it!” he tells me, when I try to step in and speed things up a little bit. You’re right, baby. You can do it. And he does.

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It’s hard for me, letting go of the little bit of control I think I have. So often I just want to get it done, and please, can you just go play, so Mommy can finish this? But most of the time, the world won’t come to a crashing halt if dinner is ten minutes later or if the laundry is folded tomorrow instead of today. One day all too soon, they will walk out of my house, taking with them whatever they have gained from their few years in our home. I want them to remember how I let them help. How I didn’t care if they always got it right. How I handed over the tools or the dishrag or the broom and said “Thank you so much, I would love your help.”

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And while I hope I’m teaching them something, I think I’m probably the one who learns more. About letting go and not being in control. About putting aside my to-do list. About how much they really can do when I let them. Because that table, it doesn’t wobble. Not even one bit.

“Do you remember when I builded that table, Mama?”

I sure do, baby. I hope I always remember.

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