“‘You’ll spoil her,’ they say. ‘You can’t treat her like a princess forever.’
Shame kicks me in the stomach.
Independence is thrust upon my child. She tries to catch it but her arms are not strong enough. Not yet.
Suddenly, it’s a race — not against time but to hide the help that I provide.
‘Yes, she sleeps alone.’
‘Yes, I agree, time-out works.’
‘Yes, babies can manipulate.’
‘Yes, I get everything done around the house without so much of a whisper from my child.’
And so I hide. My world is suddenly not like everyone else’s. It’s lonely to be exhausted by the very things you refuse to share. I may as well be on Mars, starving for air.
I believe I need to prove that she is capable, that she doesn’t need me.
But slowly, these beliefs are stripped away. I am left completely bare, protected only by wavering bravery.
One day, I’m putting shoes on a small human in a big parking lot and I’m reminded of this exchange, and many that were similar. It feels like yesterday and yet so long ago, that these could pierce my heart.
‘You can’t treat her like a princess forever.’
These might be small, black, and slightly muddy boots — but they may as well be glass slippers to me.
‘My princess,’ I think to myself, as I slide on the boot.
It’s almost as if the mother who listened before, albeit briefly, is a different person entirely.
Because I know:
I don’t have to compare my child to another.
Supporting a child to complete practical tasks is a form of connection.
Mothering is an act of kindness, compassion, and is worthy.
They don’t stay little forever.
By holding them close, they will enter the world — alone — stronger, braver, and capable.
So, no, I won’t treat you like a princess forever.
Because soon, you’ll be the queen.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Zelma of The Postnatal Project. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her website. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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