My little one is no longer my own.
And yours probably isn’t either.
If this is “old news” to you, then please forgive me whilst I waffle; cover your eyes to the cutting of my maternal strings, and divert your attention elsewhere.
But if any part of you wonders with apprehension whether you are in the above category, then read on.
This week I read a very good post by Katia Hetter called I don’t own my child’s body . It explains the importance of teaching consent from a very young age by allowing children to create their own physical boundaries.
In layman’s terms: one must never force their kids to kiss great aunt Mildred.
I “liked”, I “shared”, and then sunk into the sofa with a cup of tea.
And with that first deep exhalation of the day I realized:
These rules, they apply to mothers too.
It dawned on me that my behavior just this morning had broken all the rules. I had:
- Pulled my little boys jumper down over his head and smothered him with kisses. He didn’t kiss back.
- Deeply inhaled the creases of his neck as if they were fresh baguettes from the oven.
- Perched him on the bottom step and “Cookie Monstered” his toes before squishing my nose directly into his, muttering something like “MUMMY LOVESSSHHHH SHOUEEEE!!”. He pulled a face and wriggled free.
Whilst all loving gestures, they were not what he wanted or needed this morning.
At eighteen months of age, there is a new dawn breaking for my little boy.
Courage, independence and physical capabilities are hard tested from the first blink of the day to the very last. His hands are permanently busy, his mind assessing the room for everyday puzzles to piece together.
And there I am shoving cream cheese sandwiches in his path and trying to take mum/baby selfies.
“Quite FRANKLY mum…” (I imagine he would say to me, if he could speak) “Back off!!”.
Of course, I know that he still loves and needs me. But it is from a gently increasing distance and on his own terms.
And that is fair enough, isn’t it?
It is natural, it is good news. He is budding so brilliantly.
I long for the closeness of him, the physical touch, and the early days which had so often rolled into nights unnoticed. Ironically, these very same days had filled me with desire for personal space, a few less minutes spent nursing, holding, cradling.
The irritating ringing in my ear of others’ timely advice “Enjoy it! It doesn’t last long!” makes me want to smile and frown at the same time. In the thick of newborn life, it is near on impossible to grasp the truth in those words.
And yet, true they were.
Thinking of my behavior this morning, deep down I know…
It was for my own benefit.
Like a soppy wet noodle of a mother (whom I swore I would never be), I was collecting moments to prepare me for my day at work ahead, for the distance spreading between us.
But Mummy’s kisses are not what baby needs just now.
And perhaps it’s time to stop calling him “baby”.
This little boy, very nearly capable of putting on his own socks, he is his own person now.
As he steps further into toddler hood and further from my reach, I will blow him silent air kisses from behind and smile…
…knowing that they are sending him safely on his way. ♥