My little guy is, well, a character. He sings and dances with a microphone in hand. He entertains and genuinely cares that the people around him are okay. He’s the first one with a hug or a gentle hand if a voice is raised or a fight breaks out. He cries any time my voice is raised crying out in danger as he tries to help me unplug the vacuum cleaner or trying to talk above three active kids. I can see him being a doctor or a comedian. He is just over three years old and heading into FDK (full-day kindergarten) next September.
Out of all my three monkeys, as a mom, I am the most protective of him. Not because he needs it, but because I’m still dealing with the outcome of watching his little body fight off a blood disorder when he was a day old and being the one to hold down his little body while they tried desperately to find a vein to put an IV into his fragile arm. He weathered blood tests, being shuffled from NICU, to my room, back to NICU, home, back into the paediatric ward and finally into the final NICU where he was given a life-saving blood transfusion to help his tiny blood cells combat the battle going on between my blood and his. I am RH negative and in a rare case, developed antibodies somewhere between my first trimester and twenty-eight weeks. Those antibodies were released into his body when our blood mingled during a planned c-section at 36 weeks and went to work destroying his red blood cells faster than his tiny 5 lb 2 oz body could reproduce his own healthy red blood cells. Three weeks of torture we endured with him including having to leave him at the hospital when they could no longer justify keeping me in a room post-delivery. Even after the transfusion and his release, he was subjected to weekly blood tests to ensure his hemoglobin counts continued to climb. If I ever hear the word “heel prick” again, it will still send chills down my spine. And yes, during this time our other two children were at our house being bounced between grandparents, Mr. L and our live-in nanny who thankfully arrived in the middle taking over and ensuring my two girls had a sense of routine after the frantic holiday season that year as Jacob was born soon after Christmas.
Why go into all of the above detail? Because this week I am realizing I need to loosen my grip on my healthy baby boy. He is growing so fast, wanting to stretch his wings and experience life but I am holding back. I am holding back letting him too far out of my sight. This fear extends to my girls as well and I have noticed my eldest starting to buck against my constant presence. Being a SAHM I always know what is going on with them. What their every mood is at any given moment. This can be a curse and a blessing being so present in their lives. Goodness, up until today I was so anxious to leave our town when all three were safely tucked in their respective schools “just in case.” Just in case of what? One got sick? Jacob needed me to pick him up early? One needed a forgotten scarf? I have turned down coffee dates, lunch dates pretty well anything that would take me out of town during their school hours. After all, I am the “go-to” person, the “one” who has to be on-call “just in case” and I take that responsibility very seriously.
So today, I ventured out. I needed to go to the Disney Store. Audrey’s birthday is coming up and I would like to surprise her with a new princess dress. There is no Disney Store in my town or the one next to ours where I sometimes run errands. (I live right on the border of two lakeside towns so I call them both mine.) I had to venture, FURTHER AWAY, or not run the errand. With my phone held close so I could hear a ring, I drove to the large mall that housed the only Disney Store in a reasonable distance from us. Should I just run in, focused on purchasing my one item? Or should I risk it and pick up a couple of other things and perhaps (gasp!) sit down and have a coffee. I opted for the second option.
I made a morning out of it. I strolled. I shopped for the girls’ birthday presents. I got loot bag items. I oohed and awed over the changes in this particular mall. After all it has been nearly three years since I set foot in it, maybe longer. I sat down with a book and had a coffee. And you know what? Everything was okay. I did not receive a frantic message from a school. Nobody needed me. All my kids were happy and healthy. What more could I ask for?
My role as a mom is changing. I can feel it. It is a subtle change. They all still need me in so many ways but not in the same clinging desperate need of an infant. They all have their own lives to start to build outside of my existence. I need to let my boy fly a bit on his own and realize he is not the preciously fragile baby I brought home three years ago but a sturdy, opinionated little guy who will (I fear) steal the hearts of teachers and girls in the years to come. My girls are starting to keep their own little wishes and desires to themselves choosing which ones to share with me versus telling me everything on their minds. As my role shifts, so must I. I must learn it is okay and feel free to head out further than the local grocery store or nearby gym. If I happen to get that dreaded call, I will get there as soon as I can and they will be okay.
Why is it we hold on so tight and find it so hard to let go? I am so proud of my little guy and my girls for being independent little souls who on the large scheme of things, are generally well behaved. They are not troublemakers in school and generally teachers enjoy having them as part of their classrooms. I know with Jacob the events directly after his birth sometimes affect my emotions and I cling to my little guy worried something will hurt him. It is irrational and I let the feeling pass as quickly as I can knowing they are the after affects of a scary situation. My girls I want them so desperately to be happier than I was and feel more secure in childhood that sometimes I smother them over anticipating their needs instead of stepping back to let them experience life on their own. Perhaps my little trip out of my comfort zone today will lead me down a more balanced path where I can let go, a little, on the reins of their young childhood as they enter girlhood and the boy years. I hope it can.