I’ve been seeing signs lately that my 9-year-old son, Ryan, may be cutting the apron strings a lit-tle bit and I’m torn between elation and sadness.
This is a child who, when still a baby, would scream the moment I attempted to cross the baby gate into the kitchen. He could still see me, but that wasn’t good enough. It felt like I had to be within two feet of him at all times or much crying and gate rattling would ensue.
This is a child who, as a baby, cried for four hours straight in his crib. He didn’t sleep if he was alone in his room and every “remedy” for this failed miserably. So I co-slept with Ryan. Otherwise, I was in the nursery every 90 minutes – sometimes three to five times within a two-hour period. Co-sleeping meant – well, sleep. I was all for it.
This is a child who, as a toddler, would cry and cling to me if someone he didn’t know so much as made eye contact with him.
This is a child who, as a young child, never wanted to be away from me. At church, the veteran nursery staff assured me all little kids cried for the first few minutes the first couple of times they were dropped off and Ryan would be no different. He’d be fine as soon as I was out of sight, they assured me.
Within 10 minutes my little pager started buzzing. Ryan’s crying was upsetting the other kids. I signed up to be a regular attendant and settled for listening to the service over the PA system in the nursery.
This is a child who, just two years ago, assured me he wasn’t going to college but intended to be-come a real estate agent like me and do all the work so I didn’t have to go to work ever again and I could play with him all the time.
This year Ryan started asking me not to kiss him goodbye when I dropped him off at school because the other kids might see. We developed a “sign language” that meant the same as kissing him goodbye and telling him I loved him.
A few months ago, Ryan made me promise I wouldn’t go through our usual bedtime routine if he ever had a friend sleep over.
A few weeks ago, Ryan decided he was old enough to settle for a kiss, a hug and a ‘good night’ at bedtime instead of the usual routine.
Last week Ryan quietly apprised me of the fact that “since I’m 9 years old now, I think…ahem…the other kids would make fun of me if they heard me saying ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy’…so…maybe…um…I should start calling you ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’.”
“Of course!” I assured him. “That’s absolutely fine with me.”
Am I elated at finally getting some breathing room or heartbroken at what feels like the first of many major steps away from me?
Like many aspects of parenthood – I’m both.