Connection vs. Independence
Parenting: the most stressful, thankless, and potentially teaching role one can play. Regardless of your circumstances, parenting can be a mirror to the places in ourselves needing attention. Before I start my narrative, let me say that I am by no stretch an expert in child health. And, because I strongly believe in freedom, karma and unconditional love, I do not judge another’s choices. No parenting situation looks the same.
Me and my Mancub. A love affair that started a decade ago in utero: me, maman, his metronome. He’s the only person who knows the sound of my heart beat from the inside. (He loves when I tell him that, too.) Although the love is real, Who’s kidding who though? Parenting gives me grey hair.
Getting to school on time challenges us each time the Mancub stays with me on a weeknight. We discuss the need to be on time, for both of us, and yet somehow we continue to stumble. And, a few times, I’ve raised my voice in frustration. Loud voices for me are a deal-breaker. I seek and crave quiet, thoughtful and caring communication, even when I disagree. So, how is it that the only person I would exchange my life for is the one I raise my voice to?
My child is not responsible for my behavior. No one but me decides how I respond to any situation. Period. To blame him represents an unacceptable abdication of personal responsibility which to me points to the core of suffering: if I believe he or anyone is responsible for my frustration, then I can point blame, then I can also say that they are responsible for my happiness. The trap tempts us as our society encourages us to believe others make us happy/sad.
I struggled weeks with this question: what could I do differently to get him to go faster? Leaving on time isn’t any less important. What I didn’t see was that I’ve been asking the wrong question. A flash of clarity hit me: we needed MORE connection and less independence. Don’t roll your eyes! Let me explain.
What was needed to remedy the situation was for ME to self-reflect and find a kinder solution.
Waking up isn’t the issue; Mancub has always preferred early to bed and early to rise, even as a baby. My nocturnal self adjusted begrudgingly to 4 am wake-ups. Thankfully today, he mostly sleeps until 6. If he’s up at 6 and we have to leave at 7:30, that leaves us 90 minutes to have breakfast, make his lunch, get dressed and leave. Piece Of cake, right!?
6 am he grabs a book, turns the coffee in that I prepare the night before, sits at the kitchen counter to read and waits for me to serve him breakfast. Truthfully, I cherish this morning ritual. He talks to me, tells me jokes, and asks me for water refills incessantly (despite being 2 feet from the fridge). Soon enough, he will completely spread his wings, as I hope!, and these beautiful memories only I will have. (Kids forget this age I think).
At 7 he’s usually dressed, minus socks and shoes. After making breakfast, I prepare his lunch. Cook something warm for his thermos so he has a homemade meal. At 7:15, the drama begins. Nicely, I say, “time for shoes and socks”. For about 15 minutes, I perceive he ignores me, since zéro progrès in the socks and shoe area follows my requests.
And, then the frustration mounts. Sometimes he cries. I feel like shit. We hug and leave, late.
What I couldn’t “see” was in the 15-30 minutes spent asking him, I never looked him in the eye. I didn’t see my child. I’m always running, doing this and that, preparing my day hurriedly. What he wanted from me was connection, kindness, my attention, just for a minute. What needed to change was my attitude, to slow down, to witness him. Perhaps, just for a short period, as nothing lasts forever.
Over the weekend I asked him, “do you want more mama connection in the morning? Do you want me to put on your socks and shoes for a few days and see how it goes?” His face lit up. Love, seriously, love and kindness. How could I have missed this?
We tried this morning. One minute for socks. One minute for shoes. In return, I got smiles, cuddles, hugs and kisses. Golden mama gifts. And, Sure enough, we weren’t late. He even kissed me goodbye.
My Mancub possesses multitudes of qualities that will ensure he has a productive life. My purpose in life as his mama is not to push him into being a grown up, time takes care of that with no encouragement needed. My purpose is to love him unconditionally so he will trust himself, know he is worth it, have confidence to do whatever he wants; to teach him love.