His very first portrait - 2007
The hardest part of being a mother to me is letting go. As mother’s we instinctively hold on tight to our children and protect them under our wing. They’re always in arms reach, our eyes are always burrowing an invisible hole in the back of their head in public and we know the general whereabouts of their location at all times no matter where we are in relation to them. Then, one day, we’re supposed to just “let go” and allow strangers to watch them, to teach them, to guide them.
I only allowed my mom to babysit my son and that was on rare occasions. The first time I ever spent a night away from him was in the hospital to give birth to the nightmare. To say that I was severely attached to him is an understatement.
I used to cry when my son was a baby about the day I would have to let go of him. It seemed like a million miles of years away, but I knew that it would sneak up on me faster than I wanted.
And it did.
Just under 2 years old - 2008
The first day of Preschool was a very sad day. I cried the entire time he was in school and I worried and I fretted and I cried some more. Of course he was fine and couldn’t be happier to be in school.
I felt that strong, instinctual feeling of loss that comes with letting something or someone go. I felt alone, I felt sad and I felt lost. It seems so unfair, that feeling of loss. Why we care so much and try so hard to hang on, only to be forced to let go. Be forced to be sad. Be forced to be alone.
3 years old - 2010
Then slowly along the way, I became complacent and dropping him off at school became something I looked forward to instead of something I feared. I got some peace and quiet that I didn’t realize I was missing and he got playtime with friends. It seemed like a win-win.
However, over the Christmas season I started noticing a difference in him and in his behavior. No longer was he happy and content being at home without structured activities. No longer could a day of playing outside or with Lego’s be “enough” for him. He craved and demanded structure and entertainment. I found myself getting irritated, frazzled and worn out from trying to keep him somewhat containable. My house became messy and destroyed on a daily basis with his frantic boy energy. I started keeping him in the back yard-like a rabid, untrained dog.
Almost 4 years old - 2010
Then came on the wave of “boyness” behavior and play; his preferences changed and the waves haven’t stopped. He started saying he didn’t like girls. He started using words like “kill” and “beat-up”. Then, the aggressive boy play came on. He started play fighting with his sister. He started wanting to play with guns and swords. Just yesterday, I found him yelling “I’m going to kweewl it! KWEEWL it!” as he was bludgeoning a pincher bug to death with a shovel.
The first day of preschool - 2011
Once again, I have found myself being complacent. This behavior is what I feared, what I tried to avoid by surrounding him with only girls as friends. However, this behavior is also what I deemed unavoidable if he was to attend school. I could hold off the boy play as long as possible, I could even avoid it completely by homeschooling him, but I gave in and became complacent to it instead. I veer him away from the aggressive play, I correct his forceful language and I punish him for being rough with his little sister. What more can I do?
How different things have become in the last 5 years. Where he was once my protected baby bird in my soft, protective nest-now he is my average and totally normal 5 year old son. And now, next Tuesday is Kindergarten registration. Full time school-every day of the week is just around the corner. I’m guaranteed to cry, I’m guaranteed to feel that feeling of loss in the process of letting go and then I’m guaranteed to become complacent. That is the hardest part of being a mother to me.
the feeling of loss
and then the inevitable complacentness.
His 5th Birthday Party - 2012