“1, 2 . . . 3, and 4.”
We’re at my niece’s birthday party, and every five minutes, I am mentally counting heads. Specifically, my children’s heads. In the midst of a large gathering of kids and adults, my four humans seem so tiny, swept into the sea of ready arms of my extended family, and out of my sight.
“1, 2, 3 . . . 4.”
No sooner does one child land back at my side or in my arms, another goes forth with a willing relative more than happy to relieve me.
I feel a little lost and unused to the fact that I can eat uninterrupted.
I drop my plate like it’s hot (it actually is, for once!) and scour the room for the twins. Teetering on toddler-hood, they are being carried around like the precious cargo that they are. Somehow, I’m convinced that they’re abandoned near the children’s play area, dangerously close to the kinetic sand that they will put in their mouths.
Ah, they’re safe, one with my mom, the other with my aunt.
I can’t seem to relax.
If this is what it’s like at a two-hour party where my children are off doing their own things without me in the picture, what will my mental state be when they are 18 and actually old enough to do their own things without me in the picture, FOREVER MORE?
The invisible lines between me and my children are thinning. It’s an inevitable part of parenting, where if you do a fantastic job of this, they leave you. Your good parenting thins that line.
That line starts the moment they are conceived. The cord that nourishes them in-utero is tangible. When they were babies, it was easy to feel close to them. Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, cuddling, holding, carrying – there was no let-up in physical contact. The line sees no deterioration as they enter toddler-hood; I am still their safe landing place. But once they’re past the age of two, signs of wanting to be independent begin to emerge (it’s no coincidence that the ages of two and three are the toughest on us for various reasons).
My six-year-old can do many things on his own. I am at once proud, relieved, and strangely nostalgic. His younger brother is three going on 13. I am proud and slightly mortified that he makes fart jokes already.
Maybe this is why I still breastfeed and co-sleep with my 14-month-old twins. I’m desperately clinging onto that line connecting me to my children, the pieces of my heart who are tearing through childhood.
Unsentimental as I am to their school milestones of preschool, kindergarten, and soon, first grade – no tears, only proud smiles – I already know that I will have a hard time with them leaving home. It’s 12 years away, you say, such a long way away!
To me, that is a mere 624 weekends away. Twelve birthdays away. A mere blink of an eye.
The passing of time, the speedy growing of children, my increasing panic at that fact – inevitable.
The invisible line that connects me to my children will either wane or strengthen, and that is up to me. What we do now matters. The time spent with them, the times that we let them go, whether on their own or to the safe folds of family and friends, it all matters.
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This post was written by Alison Lee exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.
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