Learning to say yes
I've somehow managed to avoid some of the classic mothering pitfalls. I don't struggle overmuch with guilt. I don't spend a lot of time angsting over the recently-trendy topic of "having it all" or torture myself over my work / life balance. Something I have had to consciously teach myself, though, is to say yes more. Not in a spoiling way or a going back on the rules way, but in a "let go of the Type A personality" way. If Nico asks for one more bedtime story and it's not much too late, what's one more story? If he wants to scribble all over his coloring page with every green crayon he owns instead of mixing it up a little, no worries. If he does silly things with his toys but isn't tearing them up, more power! And the biggest one lately, if he wants to run through the garden hose every evening…well…I think that's okay.
At first it was kind of contrary to what I thought we should do. He'd get messy, I'd have to change him into a whole new outfit. Then I realized, who cares? He's a kid, he's fully washable. He has many, many outfits. And even better, if we go out pretty close to bedtime, I can just strip off his wet clothes and put him straight into his pajamas. Sure, it's messy. Sometimes it's inconvenient. But ten, fifteen, twenty years from now when we both look back, what are we going to remember more fondly? The nights he went calmly to bed with dry hair or the times he got to run wild in the water? I think I already know that answer.