Children Grow and Mothers Do Too

I woke from a dream. One where my youngest boy was a toddler again. That brief phase of sweet-smelling heads, snuggling against your cheek. He’s a little boy who loves his mama and knows he’ll love her forever. Every time I have this dream, it hits me that my babies will never be babies again. I’m glad they’re becoming their own people, but sometimes I sure do miss those other versions.

Even as my kids got older, sometimes they’d want to be carried. And I would. I would tell them I could carry them forever, not yet seeing the day when they wouldn’t want me to. Or the day they were simply too big for me to bear their weight.

The old advice to enjoy it, because it’s all over too soon doesn’t ring so well when you’re in it. When you’re overwhelmed with diapers and snacks and babyproofing the electrical outlets. It doesn’t hit you until later when that is the past, and you have to decide if you were living in the moment or not, and make your peace.

There was a day at the beach, the last my boy wanted (but I didn’t know at the time it was the last). 13 years old, and we were in the water. He kept hanging on me and splashing at me. I was irritable and kept pushing him to swim on his own, to not cling to me. Over that summer he grew, physically, sure, but also emotionally, and found less appeal in a day at the beach.

It’s one day I regret. Not finding calm and just being in the moment. Pushing him away. And I know he’ll never be that clinging, affectionate boy again.

So maybe that’s what it all means. When you feel like you’re in a hard moment, that’s when it’s time to give in and find the beauty of it. You know you’re doing it right when they begin to break away. The typical angsty teen phase they enter? It’s often necessary. While some kids detach in a gentler fashion, some do a lot more to distance themselves, assert their independence, and become themselves. It’s healthy, and I believe it’s our job to step back and be their soft landing place while they push away.

Now, a year later, he still hasn’t wanted a day at the beach. But we’ve found new ways to connect and new opportunities for me to remain present.

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