I remember how proud I was to be big enough to ride the Mad Tea Party ride by myself. The swirling pastel teacups inspired by Alice in Wonderland let any kid ride it solo—no matter their height. And my 6-year-old self thought this would be the perfect debut for 'doing it alone.'
I proudly strutted to the perfect purple tea cup and plopped myself down. I was ready to twirl and spin and get so dizzy I couldn't walk straight.
The music started, I grabbed the wheel, and my cup began to move. I pulled and I tugged and I tried to spin faster. But I struggled. What was going on here? The ride said I was big enough to ride by myself. The ride implied I could do it ALONE.
As I struggled to wrap my arms around the wheel, I noticed something. I was the only one riding in a teacup by myself. And on top of that, everyone else was spinning WAY faster. Even when I tugged with all my might, I couldn't spin as fast as the other cups.
I was alone. Doing it by myself because I COULD. But it wasn't as fun as I thought it would be. I didn't do it as well. And I felt lonely.
Of course, I didn't want to mention any of these feelings as I got off the ride. I pretended all was good because even at six, pride gets in the way of authentically expressing your feelings.
I didn't want to admit that I was wrong. That all the independence I made a big stink about wasn't what it was cut out to be.
After this nostalgic memory faded, I thought— do I teach my kids this?
I mean, good grief, it's practically the mother's creed to teach our kids the skills they need to be independent adults. And rightly so. But does it have to start so young?
As a mother, I feel pressured to…
- Teach my baby to soothe themselves to sleep.
- Put them in their nursery as early as possible.
- Potty train my toddler ASAP.
- Teach my baby to hold their bottle by themselves.
- Have my kids put themselves to bed.
- Teach my kids to play by themselves.
(Just to name a few.)
And while, yes, I know independence must be taught and that independence is part of becoming an awesome adult, I struggle with teaching independence yet teaching them to ask for help when they need it.
To take it one step further, I wonder how we teach our kids to accept help even though they CAN do it by themselves.
When does the importance of independence consume us so much so that we feel like we can no longer ask for help when we need it?
How do we teach our kids that WE is better than I and that teamwork and community are important?
I have a proposition for all mothers: Teaching community begins with our motherhood.
I feel like I hole up in my house cooking dinners for my own family, cleaning my home by myself, raising my own kids in our own little bubble. Sticking to our schedules and practicing independence for so long has consumed me.
I feel like I haven't been taking the time to build relationships, get messy with other moms, and then help clean it up too.
Well, what if I don't want to be independent anymore? What if I want to declare dependency on my family and friends?
I have found that when I let go of my pride, ask for help (even when I don't NEED it), and lean on others, that relationships are built, I'm less lonely and life seems fuller. When I authentically share my space, I open the door for others to do the same and we are stronger women, mothers, wives, and friends because of it.
I pray for friends that I can do life with—even the mundane tasks of cleaning our homes and cooking dinner. I pray for friends who will help parent my kids when they're around and are willing to speak into my life when I need it. I pray for friends who notice when I need something before I do.
These friendships only exist though when we embrace community, let go of independence a little, lean on others, and begin to live authentically.
Just because we can do it alone, doesn't mean we should.