That’s me. Yes, I admit it. I smother my children in attention, I follow them around to make sure they don’t trip and fall, and heaven forbid, get an ouchy. I need to have my kids in my field of vision at all times and I want to know what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling and if they need a drink of water. I’m overprotective, I care what their hair looks like and if it’s falling in their eyes and I get a weird feeling if my kids have a meal and I’m not there. How do I know what give them for their next meal if I don’t know exactly what went into their bodies at the last meal because proper nutrition is IMPORTANT. The first few weeks of Eva going to school I had a strange feeling too because I didn’t know what she had done all day. Who she talked to and did she raise her hand when she had the answer? Did she listen to her teacher when there was an order given? I am a basket case.
This isn’t a new revelation. I’m fully aware of my crazy and, for the most part, I’m okay with it. But it became almost painfully obvious this past weekend when I took Eva to a friend’s birthday party, her first birthday party that was for a child in her class, first party that wasn’t for family. FIRST FIRST FIRST. Is she overwhelmed, is she going to have questions, will she be polite? You guys, I’m crazy.
Anyway, we went to the birthday party, just her and I because it was during nap time for the rest of the kids. I had to interact with actual adults (without using my husband as a buffer) and I kind of cared a little about what they thought since a lot of other kids from her class were going to be there. It was a little awkward in the beginning as some introductions go but then I started hitting it off with some parents and I didn’t want to pull away from our conversations so I let Eva go play on the playground with her friends. And I didn’t follow her.
That’s when it hit me harder than it ever has before. I felt this pull, a need almost, to go out to where she was on the playground and watch her, make sure she didn’t hurt herself and minded her manners. The playground wasn’t in plain view so for the most part I only got glimpses of her every 5 minutes or so weaving in and out near the slides and swings. The longest 5 minute intervals of all time. I just kept telling myself to stay put, it’s part of being a kid to have fun on the playground without your parent hovering. I think back to my own times on the playground as a kid alone with my friends while my mom watched my brother’s baseball games. Did she have the same feelings? My siblings and I used to walk 4 blocks to school in South Philly without my parents all the time, we played outside in the street, and later when we moved to suburban New Jersey, roam the neighborhood until the sun set. My parents cared but they didn’t hover.
When I became a mother a sense of empowerment and responsibility really overtook my life. I was pretty much in charge of everything that happened or didn’t happen to my little girl. I determined the clothes she wore and the music she listened to, the food she ate and the toys she played with. I really have no idea how to detach myself from her without causing us both serious damage. It’s what I’ve been training for these past 4 years, I guess. Each day they grow up a little bit more and each day they try something new. They learn to live their own lives, they learn there is more to life beyond mom and dad. In the end absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that couldn’t be more true in mine and Eva’s relationship. After a morning at school we can’t wait to embrace and tell each other about the day we had, what silly thing Esme did and what masterpiece she’s working on in art class.
Eva is special in many ways and one of those is that she is, after all, the firstborn. She’s the guinea pig. Trial and error until we get it right. She’s patient with me and shows me grace and forgiveness every day and for that I am forever grateful. The others are still small and need a little extra hovering every now and then. But now when the times comes to let go as the littlest ones get older, it’ll still be painful, but at least I’ll know I’ve done it before and it only make my bond with my children stronger.