So is this what I have become? The clingy, needy mother. The one who won't let go? I say I will let go, I believe I will when he is ready. I say over and over to all who will listen that my son needs me, that I will not stand for his mental anguish. I am his mother and I am a grizzly bear of a mother, so I will fight in any way that he needs. So I keep him safe, I protect him. I raise my children in the attachment style of parenting. We have shared beds, long term nursing and complete motherly love. In the hopes of creating independent children I provide them with a rock that will always be there, the mother who they never have to crave. I realize that I am partial, but this method has produced two really great kids. So it seems that in many ways this style, these choices have been effective in raising or supporting two incredible people.
But now my son is starting kindergarten, has started kindergarten, and it is not going well. He is having a hard time with the detachment, separation from his ever present mother. Many of the other children are having the same problem, all boys. The girls just seem to handle it better, even crave it. But when it happens to my son it is different. And I look at him in his sadness and despair and I know that I can not do this to my baby. That I will not force him into a situation that he is not ready for. I, his attachment mother, will protect and save him. Keep him in my safe circle of love and support that he has experienced since birth. And be a good mother. If he is not ready for school, he is simply not ready and I can wait until he is.
Than we had the meeting with his teacher and we talk and we converse and she demonstrates kindness and thoughtfulness and an appreciation for the fact that it is our decision. Than she talks about how she thinks he is ready and how he can benefit from school and what she expects from our young son. As she explains her classroom style and expectations I realize this is exactly what I was looking for. I wanted it to be 3 days a week rather than 5, but this is what I wanted for Gage. Lastly she explains that my reaction is going to create or exacerbate his. That I have to make a decision and feel confident about the situation, for him to feel safe and secure. Again, as the mother it is back on me. His extreme emotional reaction to separation has to do with my indecision about him being in kindergarten.
Motherhood seems to be a constant act of hitting the refresh button. You have to know when to let go, when to hold on, when to protect them and when to allow them their own struggles. To allow them to begin their path toward becoming the independent person they are. To watch and let them suffer and/or struggle and know that it is what is best for them. It seems to be such a contradiction. So unnatural.
So I sit and ponder. My two sides converse and I release again how hard it is to be a mother. I have created an environment where I am always available for my children, always loving them and being there for them. I believe that this is an incredible way to parent and it has worked wonderfully for me. But I am now in the stage of letting go, of letting them experience their own struggles and joys. I have heard many quotes about mother hood, the one that means the most to me states "motherhood is like living with your heart on the outside of your body". At some point you have to let them strike off on their own. For some mothers it is simply letting go of their adventurous, fearless child. Just letting go, and hoping their parachute opens :). For others, it takes a little more. It takes making the immense leap from wrapping them in your warm embrace to pushing them out the door, sometimes even against their will.
It sounds so violent, so wrong. But I watch as he almost asks for it. He needs my permission to let go of me, to let go of our incredibly intimate, close relationship and to begin his own adventures in this world. What I am beginning to understand is that I have to let go first, which is the hardest thing in the world to do. Because I don't want to let go, I would love to keep our closeness and friendship the way it is now. But that would be unfair, that would stunt him and our relationship. I love him too much for that.
So I let go. And in doing so I let him know he is capable and safe as himself, by himself. And that I will still always be here. I will hold our space, I will keep it warm forever. This will never change. I open myself up to a whole new place of vulnerability and insecurity as my heart begins to beat on the outside. Because I am a mother there is something in me that can allow me to continue living and loving with that main, vital organ on the outside.