Large blue eyes peer into my heart and break it today. A tiny hand pushes mine away as he tries to grab onto a railing. His little feet, while still a tad unsteady, start to venture up the stairs faster than expected. My son, the last planned child, told me that he didn’t need my help anymore. The words “I can do it on my own, mommy” can be so bittersweet.
There’s a side of me that is filled with a sense of pride for my son. He is developing such a sense of independence. What will be next? Will he start to do his puzzles independently? Maybe get up on the couch on his own? Pick out his own clothes? Such an exciting moment, because this is the start of him asserting a sense of self and a chance for me to learn who he really is.
At the same time, I feel depleted. As he tells me, “No”, and physically pushes me away, my mind races to him clinging to me not even a week ago. He’d ask me not to leave him and hold onto my neck as tightly as he could with those little arms. We’d hug until we reached the top of the stairs and he’d thank me as if I was some valiant warrior who saved him from the treacherous stairs. I am his defender in this moment; in every moment really. That’s one of the many duties in the mom description. Will he no longer need me for this?
With every passing day as my older daughter turned from a toddler to a preschooler, I was relieved. I’d ponder ways to get her to try to go up the stairs on her own. Holding my newborn son in his car seat, overloaded diaper bag for two kids, and my squirmy toddler wasn’t fun. I feel like her accomplishments were a success for the entire family when she started to blossom with her independence. I’m forced to question this sadness that comes from my son achieving the same goals.
In a way, I feel selfish for feeling this way. It’s not healthy for a child to always be “my baby.” I understand that. One day he will be a man with a family of his own and will need this same independence and assertiveness to help guide them through hardships. It scares me to think of a day that he will not need me as much emotionally. The little physical goals he is attaining right now may not seem like it to the naked eye, but to a mommy-eye, it appears that this is the first of many stepping stones towards that.
Thankfully, he has many more bumps on this long road ahead that he will still need me! As moms, we have to keep remember that they will never be 100% emotionally and physically free of us. My husband still has a very close relationship with his mother and still will think about her/ her teachings with every action he takes.
I need to take a moment to breath sometimes, about letting my little man grow up, but it’s comforting to know that by doing so he will one day become someone as independent in mind and body as his father. Through his growth at any stage, I will be here just waiting to help guide until he lets go of the hand and says that he can do it once more on his own. That is the true definition of motherhood that I need to remind myself in times like these.