I think it all started three years ago when I turned 40. I dressed up in an old lady costume on Halloween and wore the costume to pick up my children from school. The other mothers loved it. My son, Josh, was mortified.
The day I’ve dreaded for years has finally come. Josh is embarrassed by the very presence of me. I’m no dummy. I knew the time was coming when he would want to pretend he never had a mother and was orphaned from birth – left on the steps of a church and raised by nuns who sent him to the streets to live once he turned 12. It seems like just yesterday when he cried every time I left the room. Now, he cries whenever I’m in the room.
If we go shopping together, I have been instructed to adhere to the strict space rules he created. I must leave at least 12 inches between his arm and my arm when we’re walking side by side. I must not touch him in an affectionate way as long as there are people within a one-mile radius who might witness this display of love. If we happen to be hiking on a remote trail in the wilderness, I may hold his hand, but if an animal or One-Eyed Jack appears in our path, I am to immediately drop his hand and pretend I’ve never seen him before in my life. If we are out and about together and we happen to see a friend from school, I have been instructed to quickly find the nearest tree to duck behind and stay there until his friend is out of eyesight.
We’ve all been there. The time comes to all mothers when our children begin to desire freedom more than us. We are no longer the milk machine, the meat cutter, and the bread butterers. Instead, we are now the painful thorn in our child’s side. We are the one who tells them all about good choices and bad choices and how we’d better not ever catch them making a bad choice. We have to make them do their homework, chew with their mouths closed, change their underwear at least every other day, brush their teeth, and insist that they drive 25 mph in all speed zones and never make a left turn EVER as long as we are still living.
Despite the differences that are sure to cross our path in the coming years, I do remember how I felt at his age. I wanted to grow up, move out, marry rich, and sell real estate on the beach. No one was going to stand in my way.
Independence is a difficult characteristic to encourage in your children. But deep down inside, you know it is best for your children to find their own way in life without you protecting them from every bump and curve in the path.
Especially when you realize how gosh darn peaceful it is at the grocery store without anyone hanging on your leg while yelling, "I’M NOT LETTING GO UNTIL I GET CANDY!"
Now if I could just get my husband to stop hanging on my leg, life would be good.