Big Kid Steps: When They Need You Just a Little Less
Astrid and I are staying at a cabin. Our room has two twin beds and the first night that we went to bed, I tucked her in and turned off the lights and then I got into my own bed that was about three feet away. This little voice then came out of the darkness, “Mommy you are so far away. Please come sleep with me.”
I was three feet away I now remind you.
I am not a co-sleeper. Once they were six months old and I put them in their cribs, my kids haven’t come into bed with us when they are sick or scared. We put them to bed at about seven or eight -- in their own beds and rooms -- and we don’t hear from them until morning. Ever.
But I know that the cabin is new, the noises are different, and the bed is a little strange. So I walked over and squeezed myself into the twin bed and wrapped Astrid into my arms and she fell asleep immediately likely comforted by my warmth but mainly just knowing that I was close. Very close. And that’s okay.
My big girls are at sleep-away camp this week. A whole week.
I admit, and don’t call me a bad mom for this, but when I go on a business trip, I don’t miss my kids a whole bunch nor do I feel the need to call home daily. (I usually don’t call the whole time I’m gone.) It’s not because I don’t love them or have a need to be with them, rather it’s because I know they are safe and comfortable in a daily routine. I know at 6:30 they are getting up, heading off to school at 8:00, eating lunch at 11:30, they have art at 2:00, then come home from school at 3:22, and if it’s a Tuesday they go to dance until 7:00, and dinner is take-out from D’amico’s. I don’t need to talk to them about their days, because I know their days and at any point during the day I can almost picture exactly what they are doing.
It’s the beautiful monotony of being home.
And they are safe.
But this week I am missing them more than I can express and it’s caught me off guard in a very uncomfortable parenting way and I frankly am not happy about it. I think of them constantly but yet I cannot see them in my thoughts because I don’t know what they are doing. I don’t know what their cabins look like, what time they eat breakfast, are they learning to sail or did they choose a drama class, do they love horseback riding, is the lake water cold, are they making friends and I wonder what time lights-out is and are they okay. Are they okay?
There’s no phone or email or text to reassure me. Just silence.
And it’s more unnerving than I imagined it would be, even though I know they are just fine.
I guess what it is, is that this is the first time they are doing something completely on their own -- their food choices, clothing choices, activity choices, friends choices, everything choices -- it’s all up to them. I have nothing to do with their days and it’s left me feeling helpless, not needed, and in the dark.
Just like it should. Just like it’s suppose to.
I guess this is the first step to letting go. To letting them make their own lives. Too soon it will them spending more time with friends and then when I blink twice they will be away to college.
So I realize that a week away now, at 8- and 10-years-old, should really not be a big deal for me.
Even thought it’s probably a big deal for them.
Their first real steps walking into their own independent lives without me. Their own memories made, friends forevers, and experiences that I cannot share.
And as a mother, this makes me love them even more.
But damn I miss them.
Tracy writes about the lighter side of parenthood at www.sellabitmum.com