Last week I wrote about turning a corner with my daughter in first grade and my son in nursery school. A friend asked me how I could feel amazing. Didn’t I have the fear of not being needed anymore?
I was taken aback by her question because I never even considered that a possibility. A child always needs a mother whether a child is a baby or a grownup. It is quite obvious that a baby needs a parent to be there to perform a litany of duties from bathing and soothing to feeding and changing dirty diapers. Some parents love that stage and maybe feel that since their school-age children don’t require that kind of round-the-clock care, they are not as needed.
I think that couldn’t be further from the truth. Now that my son is in nursery school, we constantly talk about the fundamentals of sharing. And my first-grader and I have daily talks about navigating her way around the passive-aggressive bullying that is prevalent in the girl world. Neither child requires the same kind of mothering as they did as babies, but I do feel needed.
One day, my babies will hopefully grow into independent, happy adults. During that process, their needs will change. I am sure that giving them space to experience life on their own terms will be extremely difficult. I feel like this eventual release into adulthood is kind of like watching your baby learn how to walk: since you can’t walk for them, you watch from a distance. When they fall, sometimes it’s best to let them learn how to get up by themselves. But if they really get hurt, you are close by to help them. It’s a delicate dance, one in which toes will be stepped on from time to time.
Before you know it, your baby is walking all by himself. Who knows where my children will walk to one day? Maybe college, maybe married. In the end, I hope they are self-sufficient. Although my role will inevitably change, I feel that I will still be needed, just in a different way.
As a married woman and a mother of two, there is nothing quite like being mothered every once in a while. Being self-reliant is not always easy. I hope that my kids know that there is nothing wrong with coming home to take a bit of a break from life. Maybe they’ll want to talk and ask for guidance. Maybe they’ll want for me to just listen. Either way, I always know I will be there with a big plate of my famous chocolate chip pancakes.
Do you ever fear that you won’t be needed as your kids grow older?