I want to be a good mother. I’m trying to raise independent children who leave my home and make the world a little better. If my husband and I are successful, our children will be able to fend for themselves in a world that won’t always treat them kindly.
My kids are confident, polite and capable. My tween can cross the street, my seven year old can rumble up and down the street looking for a friend, and both of them know how to pay a cashier for something they’ve purchased. Both kids can make their beds, tie their shoes, manage their own homework, and make themselves a bowl of cereal.
It’s like a little death.
I know that my job is to make myself unnecessary. I understand that my children shouldn’t need me to go to college with them. I don’t want to cripple them with unnecessary longing or wistfulness. Do I? The logical part of me knows how to be a good mother. I understand that nudging them out of the nest after they’ve sprouted wings is good. They will fly; soar even.
Deep in my soul, I want to cradle them forever.
I fight with myself and my impulses. I let my ten year old cross the street, because I’ve taught her how, and now I have to trust that she’ll remember the lesson. My seven year old no longer fits in my lap, and every so often, his hand will slip out of mine, because a friend is near. They’re separating from me. It’s natural and it’s good.
At times it feels awful.
I remember waiting anxiously for my daughter’s first steps, her first words and her first day of school. Three years later with my son, who I knew would be my last child; I savored the slowness of it all. With every step he took, he was walking away from me, and my daughters milestones started to seem more like a slight than a reason to celebrate.
I don’t want to infantilize the kids, but I get anxious when everything seems to whiz by me with such velocity.
From the neck up, I know what my role is. From the neck down; it feels like a sucker punch.