Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Independence -- by Laura Houston

My son Lyle started walking at 10 months. He’s an agile kid. Strong. Fast. Determined. He is physically advanced, and I have known this since I first felt his fluttering and then furious kicks during my pregnancy. His twin brother Wyatt has always been more contemplative, and not as anxious to crawl, walk, roll over or do much other than study things very, very carefully. But something changed at 14 months for Wyatt. He got tired of sitting and looking. He wanted to walk, and he wanted it badly. So he practiced. Obsessively. He took laps around our living room holding on to furniture to steady himself, and he calculated his moves carefully.

When we went to the park, I held Wyatt’s hand and let him walk with me, or I would put him against the fence so he could hold on and walk back and forth over the grass, sticks, bark and uneven terrain. He was thrilled with his developing skill, and it changed his personality, making him more confident, more determined, more joyful. However, as we practiced in the park sometimes the people watching would say to me, “You’ll be sorry once he starts walking, too. It just makes it harder when you have two of them to chase.”

And I would think to myself, “Really? I’m going to be sorry once he gains more independence and becomes a happier baby?” I have never understood how some parents can sacrifice what’s best for the child just to make things easier on them. I’m not talking about safety here. I don’t let my boys play in the kitchen even though they are desperate to get to any sharp, shiny object they can find in the cabinets. But when it comes to things like walking, running, climbing, and rough and tumble play, well, I’m all for it even though I have to referee more and watch more closely. Autonomy for anyone is good.

Since becoming a mother, I have lost a great deal of my independence. I miss being able to walk wherever I want to walk, and to go where I want to go when I want to go there. I mourn it every day when I am packing up the stroller with diapers, wipes, toys, water, snacks, sunscreen and every other accoutrement the boys might need on our journey out. I find the schlepping of baby stuff to be maddening. I hate that it takes me half an hour to get out the door some days just to go on a 15-minute errand. I miss my simple freedom dearly. I want my kids to have what I do not right now.

Parents of older children also dole out this nugget of wisdom to me: “Enjoy it while you can. It goes by so fast. In the blink of an eye. Next thing you know they’ll be in college.” And again I want to say, “Really? Because these past 14 months have lasted forever, and I can’t imagine in going any slower.” It’s true. Being the mother of twins means non-stop movement. Not-stop doing. Non-stop watching, listening….everything. I wouldn’t mind if it flew by sometimes.

That’s not to say I don’t love it. I do. I savor the moments because I know they don’t last. But I don’t want my boys to remain babies. I love watching them grow up and move away from needing me. Lyle won’t let me feed him any more with a spoon. Great. I’m OK with that even though I have prepare his oatmeal with less milk so it’s thick enough to roll into little balls he can pick them up and pop in his mouth. I’m OK with the additional baby proofing I have to do to keep them both safe. They’re growing independence does, indeed, create more work for me right now. But it won’t be more work down the line.

Parenting is hard work. It’s supposed to be. And it’s a sacrifice again and again and again, and I fall willingly into most of the time. I know it won’t last forever. I certainly do not want it to. I enjoy watching the boys learn things that may make my life more complex today if it means it will get easier tomorrow. That’s why every time I see the boys take a step closer to being independent, I see myself as getting closer to it, too. And I breathe just a little easier. Just a little.

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Blogger Robin Gorman Newman said...

I hear ya Laura. I didn't relish the baby stage at all. Some moms love that.

Seth is now 7, and it's funny because after around age 2 or so, the years truly did fly, so I understand what people mean when they say to really take in their youth.

I enjoyed when he was a toddler, baby proofing and all. But, even as he gets older and says himself that he is a big boy now, I love seeing the person he is becoming, and there is so much more we can do together, so it's not just about the caretaking. It's about having experiences we both can enjoy, hearing what comes out of his mouth, observing his take on the world, etc. Not to say I don't still have work parenting, but for us, once we got past the potty training, life got easier at least when it came to packing a bag and leaving the house. You will get there!

I'm told that after age 8, they don't want to be with you quite so much...it becomes more about their friends. So, I'm not trying to keep that in mind when my son asks me to watch him play or lay down in his bed til he falls asleep.

They do grow up fast, though in the early stages, it doesn't necessarily feel that way.

6:22 AM  
Blogger Cara Meyers said...

I agree with Robin. Up until age 5, every day felt like a year. And I am the kind of mother to encourage autonomy in my son. But once grade school starts, time goes into warp speed! My son is going to be 7 in 2 weeks! SEVEN!!! How did he get to age 7 so fast!! The last time I looked, he was 4!!!

You're in the quicksand stage, Laura. And let me tell you, my one ADD toddler could run circles around your twins at their age! He could take a room apart faster than I could put everything back in one drawer!! I would pray for those naps like nobody's business!! And I could fall asleep on a dime!!

Yes, you need to get through a few more exhausting years. But that's what we are here for. Being there as a Later Mom to support one another!

Feel free to FB or message me to rant and rave any time! I have a nice set of wine glasses you might like! ;)

7:50 PM  

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