I was reminded of this today at the bus stop. My son fell on the concrete while running and scraped the palms of his hands. I could feel the sting and knew it must have hurt, but it was my heart that stung worse as he got to his feet, rubbed his hands together and went on instead of coming to me for comfort.
He wasn’t about to let his friends see he might need his mom. I understood his not wanting to need me, but it sent my mind reeling back to the days when a little boy would fall then come running to me with red scraped hands outstretched for mom’s gentle kisses.
We long to teach our children to be more independent. We start out with simple things like how to sit up, to crawl, and to hold a spoon. Then it’s on to dressing themselves and tying their shoes. Later it’s to making their bed and their own lunches.
They may balk at first at them having to do the things you used to do for them. You hear yourself telling them how they are old enough now to do it themselves. We feel the burden ease off of us just a little as they learn to do more on their own.
Then comes the day where you feel the sting of when they don’t need you like before. When you feel the distance growing between you there will come a day when you reach out to do something for them just to be helpful, only to have them stop you and say, “I got it, Mom. I can do it myself.”
You weakly smile and back off softly saying, “OK”, but inside it hurts. And that’s when you feel a longing. A longing for the days when your little one giggles as you pulled the shirt over his head and said peek-a-boo. When he needed you to fill his sippy cup and tie his shoes. When he desperately held your hand not wanting to let you go on his first day of school. You will suddenly find yourself longing for when he couldn’t do it by himself.
Why? Why do we work so hard at teaching them to do it on their own, only when they finally do we wished for the days when they needed us to do it?
Our job as mothers is to teach our children to be independent – to grow up and learn to take care of themselves.
Oh sure, they will always need us. To find that lost lucky shirt, to borrow money for that date, to listen when their best friend lets them down. Then later they need us for advice on a job offer or when their own children have a temperature. Their needing us never truly ends, it just changes.
Isn’t is strange how we can’t wait till they are potty trained, but the sight of a cute potty chair in the store years later makes us wish for those days back?
As moms we may always wish for the days when they were little and their lessons were little, but oh dear mom, just know that though they may need you less in the ways of chores and duties, their need for you grows in matters of more importance as their life grows.
So go on and make their bed for them once in a blue moon, not that they can’t or shouldn’t do it on their own, but more of a way to satisfy your need to do it for them just one more time.
We know you want them to think you are just being nice when they are overwhelmed with their super busy lives, but us moms secretly know it’s because you may miss the days when they needed you to.
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