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Sunset of the Mama Era

As 2013 winds down, I’m left with three thoughts. The first is could I please, please stop spending money? In the last three months, we’ve replaced our car, hot water heater, and furnace. I needed two of the three and wasn’t far off from needing the third, but I’m well and truly sick of writing giant checks.

The second is could my furnace please, please survive another 48 hours until the cavalry comes in with the new one? I’m grateful to have not had a Christmas emergency evacuation. Avoiding a New Year’s one would make me even more grateful.

My third thought, and the one I logged in to write about before I got distracted, is how different my relationship with Simon is these days. It wasn’t that long ago that a hug and kiss from me could cure everything from a hurt knee to hurt feelings. Whenever anything went wrong, I was his go-to solution. I was, in a very real sense, the center of his universe.

I’m not any  more. Hurt knees require bandages and Neosporin. Hurt feelings require working things out with peers. Whenever anything goes wrong, Simon is as likely to ask Matt, a friend, or try to work it out for himself as he is to run to me. If I step in to help when I’m not asked, I get The Hand. The Hand is five fingers spread apart with palm facing me. The Hand means “back off, Mama. I’ve got this. ” Sometimes I get The Hand when he does, indeed, “got this.” Sometimes I get The Hand when he needs help but is too proud to admit it.

There are other changes, too. I still get a kiss goodbye at the bus stop (for how much longer, I wonder?), and I still get an evening, pre-sleep snuggle. But long sessions of snuggling on the couch are over. Lap sitting is over. He doesn’t want to be picked up and carried any more, and I couldn’t do it for long even if he did want it.* He pulls out of hugs faster these days, resisting the restriction and craving more physical and emotional personal space.

All of this is a sign of growing confidence and independence. It all means he’s developing as he should. At age seven, Matt and peers should be pushing me off center stage. My role should be changing. Knowing this, however, does not make it any easier to live with reduced  lines.

At the same time, I have no desire to roll back the clock. Having a child who can take a shower with little help, dress himself, brush his teeth and floss, do his homework, record a show on tv, clear off his place at the dinner table, go for a run with me, outplay me in every organized sport he attempts, and join me for a competitive game of Yahtzee (and maintain his own scoring sheet) is a blast.

I have to accept that there are no free lunches in parenting. I can’t enjoy all the awesome companionship and independence of Simon at seven and keep all the endearing and ego-boosting dependence and adoration of his younger self. The only way to preserve the delicious exclusiveness of our past relationship would be to limit his horizons and options.

I would never do that intentionally. Still, it’s hard not to be stung by the irony that the best evidence of my successful parenting is the diminishment of the same.

*It’s likely been two years since I picked  Simon up and carried him for more than a minute or two. The only reason I thought of this is that a first-grader who waits at the bus-stop with us frequently asks to be picked up by her mom while she waits. A few weeks ago I saw the girl in her mother’s arms and was struck by the fact that Simon never wants me to pick him up like that any more and that I couldn’t do it even if he wanted!


2 Responses to “Sunset of the Mama Era”

  1. goldsteinrita says:

    When at age 8 or 9 you told me that you did not want to go to day camp at the JCC, you wanted to go AWAY, I knew that I had done a good job! You and Matt have done a good job and Simon’s way will be much easier with his new found self-confidence.

  2. blg says:

    Every day, every month, you lose a bit of the young Simon, but gain a glimpse of the older Simon…and the balance and evolution of the two is what keeps like interesting and surprising. Enjoy your new year!

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