Learning to let go: Tales from a bounce house


Yesterday evening, we joined our down-the-street friends at a local farmers’ market and a mini kids’ fair. Makenna was quite overwhelmed by all the goings-on, and held onto me very tightly.

Off yonder was a small death trap inflatable bounce house, and Makenna was intrigued enough by it that she peeked her head up to check it out. The girl loves to jump, so I decided to take her over to bounce out some energy.

There were a few kids inside, about Makenna’s size or a little bigger. I was so afraid she’d get hurt. Makenna warmed up by jumping at the threshold of the house. She did this for a few minutes, then gathered her nerve to hop inside. Deep down, I wished she would feel overwhelmed and stay on the outside with me, where I could protect her. But I knew I had to let her go and explore the confines of the jumping space.

I stood on the outside, my fingers gripping the mesh, nose pressed. If I could get inside to shield her, I would. I felt almost exactly the way I did the first week Makenna came home. I stayed up nearly all night, each night of her first week, staring at her, so afraid she would stop breathing the minute I fell asleep.

Makenna happily bounced around on her knees, then she would lay down flat on her back. I called to her to sit up, I knew her head and tummy exposed left her vulnerable amid the wild kids. Makenna is old enough to hold her own, but young enough that she is still so trusting, and unaware that she could get hurt. She would pop in and out of the tiny opening of the bouncer, but decided to go back in one more time.

Makenna was laying down again. She started to pull herself up as a little two-year-old boy’s entire body crashed down onto Makenna’s face. “MAKENNA!” I shrieked, and I dove in head-first into the bounce house. I really caused a scene. I held Makenna, who was sobbing and holding her head, as I wiggled our two bodies out of the contraption. The father of the boy made sure that Makenna was okay. In my daze, I recognized the fact that he was doing the right thing, and not looking the other way like many parents at our locals parks do. Before I walked away, I thanked him for his concern.

It took about 10 minutes, but Makenna pulled through, stopped crying, and wanted to look at the balloons that lined the street. But I was spent. The whole episode really bothered me, deeply.

Later that evening, I cried to Andrew that the great bounce house incident made me realize that I can’t always protect our girls. I have to let them go a little bit at a time, as they go to school, as they play sports or dance, as they get into cars that other people will be driving. It all scares me to death.

Before I went to bed, I went into Makenna’s room to check on her. She woke up a little and wanted to be held. I rocked her for a while, kissed her head and told her over and over how much I love her. When I settled her down, I peeked in on Paige, which woke her up a little too (part of my plan!) and I rocked her, kissed her, and told her how much I love her.

As I laid in bed, I thought about how these early years are fleeting. I learned a hard lesson that we can’t always hover over our children, they obviously need independence in order to grow and learn, but sometimes they will hurt. And that hurts my heart. Then I cried myself to sleep.

14 Responses to “Learning to let go: Tales from a bounce house”

  1. I recently heard somewhere that the only time your child is really “yours” is when they are in the womb and that as soon as they are born- the process of (a mother) learning to let go begins instantly. {I’m not explaining that quite right, but you know what I mean}

    I can only imagine what it will be like to drop Ava off for her first day of school. Or what it will be like when she goes on her first date. Or when she leaves to go to college. I don’t even want to think of it yet. I can’t even leave her with a babysitter for goodness sake!

  2. awe, sweety! that must have been so rough.

    glad miss m is doing ok.

    hugs. 🙂

  3. I feel the same!! I wish I could put my kids in a bubble 🙂

  4. 4 jane

    dude! it is supposed to take effect within a week! not yet- although i keep going to th emirror to see…so far it’s the same but now feels a little bruised. It IS a weird feeling though…like my forehead has let go of the tension and is completely relaxed- same with the outer edge of my eyes. And I keep going back to not a frown but you know..to squint or something and it just doesn’t feel right so i ‘relax’ it again. I’ll post pics after the weekend.

    Oh and hey- I hear you on what happened to Ms M. Poor baby…somehow I’ve learned to stand back when J is doing something herself just so she learns and of course as long as she’s not in danger…but when someone else hurts her watch out. I get incredibly protective and out of sorts. THe feeling is more scary than fun.

  5. Aww…this is so sweet/makes me want to weep. Also? LOVE the shiny new blog!

  6. Thank you. Now I know that I am not alone in crying myself to sleep or being fearful of letting my child play in the bounce house. Thankfully J doesn’t actually like the bounce house, but he starts JK this fall and I wonder who will cuddle him if he trips and falls and scrapes his knees. I know I can’t be with him every minute of every day for the rest of his life, but I would sure like to be.

  7. tag, you’re it. see post for details. haha

  8. 8 Greg

    This was a really sweet post! Maybe your best.

    [On another note, I like the new design. I thought about WordPress for a brief moment, but for some reason decided to stick with Blogger. I could always change my mind tomorrow, though.]

  9. oh marss,

    what a beautifully written post…i am teary right now…

    i have yet to fully imagine this situation, although being pregnant, i feel already very protective of my baby. when we were doing the 20-wk ultrasound, the damn italian doc was grunting, very frustratedly, as the baby was not “accomodating him”. he took the scanner and started *beating* on my stomach with it to get the baby to turn while sayin “c’mon!”. i was like, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY CHILD?! oy…yes, i will be a protective mamma, i think…but, your post is so wise in that yes, we can’t always protect our children and we do have to give them space & independence to learn and grow again…glad makenna was ok…

  10. 10 Lefty

    Did I mention that this post was really well done?

  11. 11 KT

    Oh poor Cheeks! I am so sorry this happened, but I am glad that everyone is OK.

  12. What a hard lesson to learn. I’m having a hard enough time watching my baby fall and bonk her forehead on the ottoman as she tries to pull up to stand. Being a mom rips your heart right out of you, hey?

  13. 13 nila

    Reading your post brought back so many memories. I remember when the bounce house was the scariest, riskiest thing they would do, now they’re begging for me to let them walk to the store alone. I’m so not ready to let go. Where have the years gone.

  14. i think our children’s process of growing up is waaay harder on us, than on them.

    you are not alone on the worrying part. i constantly worry at night if i’m sucking as a mother, their impending days of school, friends, boys, college, weddings and their physical welfare.

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