Teaching children life skills sounds like a good and prudent thing to do. Still, deep-down I didn’t really want to encourage my children to become independent.
When I look at my oldest, now 21, I see beyond the mascara and her hip haircut to the big blue eyes and fuzzy blond hair of the beautiful baby who made me a mom. My second-born (all 6’4” of him) will always, in my heart, be the chubby little newborn who thrilled me with the fact that he was a boy (a big deal to someone who is one of four sisters that never got the brother they wanted.)
Number three came along six years after her brother, and was the answer to all our prayers. When I look at her, I don’t just see the growing-like-a-weed young teen that she is, but the smiling, ruddy little doll whose siblings carried her around like a prize. And even my youngest, the one who almost didn’t make it and who spent his first month in the newborn ICU attached to tubes and wires and equipment, is strong, solid and insistent on doing things for himself (especially when his mom treats him like her baby.)
We moms cherish our children. We spent many sleepless nights with them when they were crying babies, feverish youngsters and emotional teens. We went without so they could have whatever they needed. After all the years of love and hard work we invested in our children, why would we want to give them up?
As if the thought of letting them go isn’t hard enough, there’s the fact of what’s going on in this world. Releasing a beloved child into the society depicted in our newspapers and on our televisions—one that glorifies drinking, drugs, and sex, and faces a steady barrage of terrorism, war and natural disasters—is pretty darn scary. The thought of even one of those things makes me want to gather my children under my wings and keep them there.
Sure, on the surface, “trying their wings” and other such euphemisms sound good. But there are so many things that can go wrong, so many things we can’t control. Someone once said that becoming a mother means spending the rest of your life walking around with your heart outside your body, and isn’t that the truth? It’s hard enough dealing with the physical and psychological disorders they receive in daily living now. Why would we want to send them out among the wolves?
To me, releasing them out into the world meant:
- They might make big financial mistakes.
- They might do things I don’t approve of.
And even worse:
- They might get physically or emotionally hurt.
- They might move away, maybe even far away.
- They might not need me anymore.