Practicing non-attachment in life is mostly healthy. The less we attach ourselves to an idea, a person, a thing the less pain there can be if it ceases to be in our lives, basically. Trying it with our children, however… is. killing. me.
There is always the thought as our babies grow, that they will be moving on from us one day but it often seems so far away. Until it isn’t anymore. Through upheavals, exhaustion, rough patches, late nights, endless homework and projects, breakups, jobs, sometimes you capture them sleeping for a few seconds, or see them being kind to others, helping without request and the strain of the parenting job fades. My work as a (single) parent is creating a good human and I couldn’t ask for more, in fact, he is quite stellar. Always our babies even as they grow and change and also, even when they’re not little dreamy, sweet beings.
What I have been learning during this time, is that while my baby he will always be, he is also his own self. A human. A young man with his own life, thoughts, ideas, desires, struggles, completely separate from me and mine and sometimes maddening. Stifling his natural ability to spread his wings and fly because I am not ready though, would be like trying to swim against the current – I mean it feels better than letting him go, which feels like death but also fruitless and unnatural/unnecessary/wrong. All I could want is to be the air of success under his wings, so I began to look at why I felt the angst of him moving on. I don’t want to hold him back, I believe I have done a great job preparing him, I can rationalize the order of things… so why was his new beginning wrought with so much distress for me?
The truth is that this time has been coming, but there is more here than just a normal bit of fear for his success. While I worry/care/hope for him – which all parents must experience – it also means that my day-to-day job is coming to a close. My one, most important job in life that I did without the help of the other parent. Of course, we are parents forever, we always will be their mamas and daddy’s, but he doesn’t need me like he used to. My “wake up it’s time for school”, to meal planning, to loads of laundry, to knowing he is just in the room above me with his friends, to watching his games, to hollering about a dirty, smelly room, to the unexpected “thanks mom followed by a hug” and countless other day-to-day things… our routine, his need of me, will never be the same. A me without him, not having to plan my days and my life around another human is so foreign to me, I can’t remember a time it was different. He is and always will be my everything, but it’s his turn to now go out in life and seek out his everything. Pause for a small mental breakdown….
So where does that leave me? Scrambling to make sense of it has been tough. Peeling myself, literally sometimes having to peel myself, away from being with him is a start. Initially, I had a ton of anxiety (like above and beyond the normal set), after all, my job is mama… what else could I possibly want to do? That question, what do I want… shew kicked me right in the gut. The idea that I had to figure it all out (right now!) consumed me. It became overwhelming. How come I didn’t have this all planned already? What was I waiting for? Didn’t I know this was coming all along?
And then I took a breath. Well, several
full-blown timeouts breaths over quite a few weeks days to be honest. I started to sort through where these feelings were coming from and focus on the potential I had instead of the fear. For sure, if you have a question to ask yourself you must be brave enough to answer. Or, at least seek for the answers (of course I had some help, duh). I talked to my coach and he said, “Tracy, what you want to do, you are already doing it!” My friends and family excited, “What’s next for you?” Me to my therapist… “This is totally normal, right?! Like crazy, yes, but normal crazy?!” Through all of this, and still currently, always a WIP (work in progress) things are starting to come into place. I am realizing what I want and what I don’t. I am putting into play the things that I am passionate about, helping others for example. My whole world has been about raising him, doing good for him, living for him. Now my trajectory also includes what I want to live for apart from him, what I am good at, and for, who I am as Tracy, beyond mom.
It is not selfish to want for ourselves even when we have children, no matter what previous generations thought or did. Generations past, parents were expected to give up all rights to happiness for their children, that their children were the only joy of life. Having our own life and things in it that extends past them is very important. How can we teach them otherwise? How can we expect them to want great things for their futures if we are not also doing the same? I was young when I had him so I was still growing up too, unrealized until recently. Now that I know better I have to do better.
Awareness is the launching point for growth and change. Is it going to be awful at times to not have him there? Absolutely. Will we survive as healthy individuals anyway? Abso-fucking-lutely. But, with a separate and new role for us both, him becoming his own man, and me having new opportunities there is only better, forward, and more awesome in front of us.
I have my moments, sometimes I am the mama bird scooping him up and saying “GO, fly!”, others I cry myself to sleep thinking about not being with him every day. Communication is key, we are working on it. I am looking forward to new concepts and possibilities for myself, actually kind of exciting. I am proud of the journey he is beginning too.
Stay tuned. Sigh.