Coming Independence Days

On Saturday, M and I had our first Mommy & Me swim class (my first one ever, actually). He did not enjoy it. It was an overcast day, and on the chilly side for June, and M was too cold. He cried nearly the whole time in the water, and didn’t want to do any of the exercises. After about 25 minutes, I let him out of the pool. He went to sulk by our stuff.

We’re going back next week, regardless.

Also on Saturday, I dropped Flora off at a birthday party. She walked in, and I had to call her back for a hug and a kiss. She came back, and gave me a quick smooch without complaint, and then she was off to swim for the next two hours.

On my way home, I stopped off at the library, where I stumbled on Bink & Gollie on DVD (we are big fans of the books), and I grabbed it for Kate.

For the first time, I keenly felt the double-edged sword of parenting. We bring these little people into the world, love them, teach them. They are our hearts walking around outside of our bodies.

And if we do our job well, they leave us.

What kind of deal is that?

I am working so hard to make my children independent. Teaching them that their actions have consequences. Letting them experience the world without me watching over their shoulder issuing warnings. Asking for their opinions. And I don’t think until Saturday, until Flora hurried to join her friends without a backward glance, that I realized WHY I was doing it. Or how teaching them to be confident and responsible people had the potential to make me so SAD.

What if I do it so well, they don’t trot back to me for that hug and kiss? What if we do such a good job, they move a thousand miles away? What if we’re so good at it, they decide they want to raise children too? (Fat chance, if discussions with my 9-year-old are any indication.)

Gosh, I wonder if this is how MY parents feel. I mean, they did a great job as parents. Sincerely. And their three children, we have lives of our own now — our own families, and houses, and businesses, and careers. Which was the whole point, yeah?

When I got home, I showed Kate the DVD I had picked up for her at the library. She was so excited. She had been upset because I didn’t let her come for the ride to drop Flora off. When I handed to her, I chucked her lightly under the chin and said, “I want you to know something. That even when I’m not here, or when I say no, I am thinking of you all the time.”

I wonder what I will do when I don’t have to think of them all the time.