Cats And Dogs: Tweens

Remember when Jane got Moody? Well, one of my favorite moms framed it up nicely for me. Elizabeth who has two girls older than my own who I think are fabulous.

Elizabeth gave me a cat and dog analogy, but here it is in context.

From the moment Jane was born she looked to me and to her father for guidance. She walked with us, she mimicked us, she snuggled us and we delighted in one another. She was like an adoring labrador, playing games, swimming, loping, and always wanting us.

Jane is morphing into a cat. She’s gaining independence, separating from us. On her terms we are allowed to stroke her hair, snuggle her and play her games, but Jane isn’t looking for Mom and Dad as much as she did in her early childhood. Jane is looking to her peers.

I try and give her space, I participate in the parts of her world that she wants me in, and I quietly observe the other. I am fascinated by my sleek new child and I ache for more of her. I want to know about her fascination with Robert Pattinson, but she just blushes and gives me the “oh Mom”. I want to hold her hand in public, I have two and Alexander only requires one.

I want to pull her in close and say, “Jane, you’re still one of us, you’re still a Gottlieb and we need more of you.” Instead I say yes to sleepovers that I wish she didn’t want, I say yes to long bike rides that take her out all afternoon, I say yes to sleepaway camp and to walks and trips to the store. Inside I’m falling apart, I need Jane more than she needs me. She’s my first child, the one who taught me how to love. She made me a mother and indebted me to the universe. My soul wants to cling to her; my head knows better.

My sweet Jane, the cat.

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  1. Richard Canales

    I can empathize. I have a 12 year old boy but it feels the same.

    I follow you on Twitter @ricorick.

  2. Perfect, I was wondering where my “good cry of the day” would stem from… My oldest is a 4yr old smart and sassy little girl. We are currently attached at the hip. While I know that the days of independence are looming…I’m gonna squeeze her just a little bit tigther today and maybe indulge her with a round of mami’s hair salon. Thanks, Jessica.

  3. SavvyMegz

    Absolutely loved this piece of yours.. though I am not a mom but i can look back and compare it to my relationship with my parents!! I am glad i have time to make amends!!

  4. The little boy who used to have the whole family in stitches with his funny faces, jokes and impersonations has turned into a 13 yr old stranger who rarely says more than ‘yeah’ or ‘i dunno’. I hope we all come out the other side of adolescence in one piece.

  5. Well, as the mom of a child who recently told me that if I accompanied him to a state competition, I had to pretend not to know who he was, I can relate. But my older child has always been a bit catlike, to borrow your analogy. We’ve been separating since birth. My younger one is more of a puppy; his separation will be more painful.

    Separation and individuation is a good thing; I’m just afraid of the stupid decisions they will make along the way. Even “good” teens make bad decisions now and then. It’s part of growing up. As a parent, I’m all too aware of the potential long-term consequences of those decisions. They are not.

  6. oh, how i know this feeling. two of my puppies are now cats. my third, my baby, will soon follow. and i’m not ready for that. but yet, it’s par for the course of having children. the further away they wander, the further my heart is from my body. i miss my heart.

  7. siiiiigh. Isabelle was born a cat, still a cat. I always wanted a Labrador.

  8. What a perfect analogy! I just hope my little one stays a puppy for as long as possible.

  9. I love that analogy! You will still have those moments with her. And they’ll be even more special when she’s the one initiating them.

  10. beautiful. and you are doing great. don’t worry, eventually the cat comes home to snuggle… on her own terms. but she knows you are there and that is the part that counts.

    my girl turns 21 on sunday.

    in europe.

    that makes me both sick to my stomach and bursting with pride at the independent woman i raised.

  11. smiles

    Love this, that’s exactly how I am feeling with my nine-year-old already. Nice work and lovely writing.

  12. Shannon

    My 4 year old girl just learned how to ride her bike without training wheels the other day and I had to fight back the tears because she is growing up so fast that I can’t keep up. I am so looking forward to and dreading the day she turns into a cat. I just wish I could keep them exactly how they are today, my two little puppies. :)

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