One Small Wizz For My Son, One Giant Step For Mother-kind

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20131015-103810.jpgWe got to the museum and both decided we needed to pee before buying our tickets.  Jack and I headed through the expansive lobby, which echoed with voices of hundreds of kids getting wild with science on their school vacation week. 

We’ve been to the science museum a handful of times, but the noise and crowds never fail to trigger my anxiety.  Instinctively, I stuck my hand out to my side for Jack to hold. 

He didn’t take my hand. 

After a few seconds of it poked out and swinging in the breeze, I looked down at him.  He had pulled his hands in closer to his sides, and had a determined smirk on his face. 

He’s resisted holding my hand for the past couple months.  I’m not going to lie; it pretty much breaks my heart.  I mean, he’s only six and a half.  I figured I had a couple more years  before he rejected the comforting grip of his mama’s paw.  At home, he still loves to snuggle, asks for back-rubs and Reiki every day.  But when we are out and about, he asserts physical independence.  I do not force him to hold my hand.  I accept his boundary with a sigh of resignation.  

So, I wasn’t shocked he wouldn’t hold my hand, but when we got to the bathrooms, he did something for the first time that caught me off guard:

Without skipping a beat, he strode right into the Men’s room, as opposed to coming with me into the Ladies’ room, as he usually will do.  I stood there outside the two bathroom doors with their universally recognized icons, my mouth hanging open.  “Oh, so you’re going in there?”  I called after him.  “Ok, I’ll meet you right back out here!” 

“Ok, Mom!” I heard him call back. 

I walked into the Ladies’ room, fighting the urge to tell the total stranger at the sink that my son, who usually comes with me into the Ladies’ room, just went by himself into the Men’s room for the first time.  Like ever.  My mind raced as I sat down on the potty and wound length after length of toilet paper around my hand.  He’s fine, he’s fine, I chanted as I hurried to wash my hands so I could get back out to the meeting place. 

When I stopped to think about it, I realized I was not concerned about him getting abused or abducted in that mysterious “other” bathroom.  Statistically, a child is probably a lot safer using a rest room by themselves in this day and age than I was at Jack’s age.  Logically, I know this.  We live in a culture that perpetuates fear so we feel markedly more unsafe than we did 30 years ago. 

But there is no logic to the fear and pain felt by a mother’s heart as her young takes yet another tiny step in his journey from her side. 

If I ever had any illusions about the extent to which I could control and influence my children, Jack dispelled all of them in his first days on the planet.  From the get go he was a fierce, little creature who did not go with my flow.  I was forced to realize that although he came from my body, and although I was charged with growing and keeping him safe, he did not belong to me.  It has been a non-stop journey of letting go–  of my preconceived notions, of my desires, of my schedule, of my needs, of my fears. 

I barreled out of the bathroom to find him waiting right there at the spot upon which we had agreed.  He smiled up at me and I felt reassured.  We walked towards the ticket counters and I reached down, allowing my hand to ruffle through his hair, and rest on his shoulder.

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15 responses »

  1. It’s hard watching our children become more independent. My daughter just turned two and it’s amazing to see how much she’s grown up and how much less she needs me than she used to (though at two she still needs me quite a bit). Lovely post!

  2. Almost felt like I was living that experience as I read this. You’re doing a good job, mama.

    I love that you give your children Reiki. I do too, and on the days I forget, I swear her sleep is a little worse than it usually is.

    • I try my best to remember to do it. Sometimes it is hard to muster up the energy, especially if he is being wicked on that particular day, but I guess that is when he needs it most, right? Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Aww! This really strikes a cord. My son is only 6 months old…we’ve got a long way to these milestones. Yet, I can’t help but remind myself on nearly a daily basis that these baby days are numbered…posts like this drive it home even more. He’ll be grown up before I know it. Thanks for sharing, and it IS a HUGE deal! You should have told the stranger…I probably would have. Haha.

  4. “I’m not going to lie; it pretty much breaks my heart.”

    I like that line.

    No, I’m not delighting in your heartbreak, but enjoying the way you weave between Jack’s subtle actions and your otherwise-unknowable reactions.

    We often assume that children don’t possess anxieties of their own, ’cause they’re all…you know, LITTLE and stuff?

    …but I can remember being made to follow my protective Mom into Ladies’ washrooms and change rooms, and feeling very out of place. There, attached to my child harness at the tender age of twelve (kidding!), the whole atmosphere felt very incongruous. I was in there with a bunch of ladies, and when they looked at me, they’d smile.

    “What are YOU smilin’ at?!”

    I didn’t feel like smiling, just…getting the heck out of Dodge, you know?

    Now though, I’d love to have unfettered access to Ladies’ change rooms.

    I’ve come across quite a few “Mom Blogs,” and I don’t interpret any offense in my lead-in here, but most of them…suck. I believe that any subject matter can be made interesting, but when your whole outlook is downtrodden and exasperated by default, like many of them are, with talk of anti-depressants in candy dishes and shows like The Spew, I just…can’t get on board with that.

    You, though…you have an inner monologue I like. And perhaps best of all, you understand the apostrophe and its uses!

    Oh, and I’m glancing to the right at the moment and I see you have a tag called “BREASTS.”

    I am…SO there.

    😛

    • Well. Well. Well. I’m afraid my “breast”-tagged posts are going to be a sore disappointment, no pun intended, but they are mostly about breastfeeding related issues, including severe-toe-curling-nipple-trauma. (BTW, fun fact, google “nipple damage from breast feeding” and my article on nip damage will come up fourth in search results– not bad for a little mommy blogger!) Anyhoo, thank you soooooo much for this comment. I woke up this morning and found that someone had left me a comment wishing me a soon death from breast cancer in response to one of my posts. While I took this in stride, it still made me go “Oh the humanity!” So, your generosity, candor, and kindness definitely balances things out a bit, you know? I also liked hearing your perspective, as a young male, on the situation (and as irony would have it, it was a young male who left me the death wish, so maybe the universe does like balance…) Would you mind if I made you a feature of one of my Saturday Shout Outs? I’m really looking forward to following your blog. Thanks again so much! And yeah, my inner monologue is a little twisty and dark, so watch out! xox.

      • Hey!

        I’m glad I was able to neutralize that kid’s venom. Don’t worry, he was almost certainly trolling you. Young males don’t really have opinions on breast feeding…unless of course we’re the ones doing the feeding! Giggity! 😛

        Oh, and fun fact? I was enjoying a crusty, salty egg roll out of my Chinese food delivery when I saw your reply there and read “nipple damage.” Don’t worry, I still enjoyed it, just…less.

        Ha!

        Oh, and would “I mind” if you made me a feature? Heck no! That is super flattering, and I’ll thank you advance for considering me worthy! 😀 My only worry now is that of my 67 posts thus far, the ones immediately visible to anyone who might take your referral to heart wouldn’t be to their tastes. I’ve done a variety of stuff. Heh heh.

        Eh, I guess it doesn’t really matter to me. I just appreciate the sentiment. 🙂

      • I think your stuff is super witty and smart. Kind of like how the writers from the Simpsons all went to Harvard or something, if you can understand that. I’m also sort of amazed at how prolific you are with your drawing and posting and such. . . It’s also awesome that you are from Canada. I want to go to there.

  5. Wow, that’s a very high compliment. Thank you! 🙂

    I think it means a little more than you know, actually. I’m a huge Conan fan. In fact, back when I was like, 10, and a huge Simpsons fan, he was a writer on the show, and I didn’t even know it at the time, but the episodes he penned (years later I’d find that out), were my favourites even then.

    I remember first hearing his name when he was written into the “‘I Didn’t Do It’ Boy” episode in 1993, where Bart, the flash-in-the-pan “It Boy” appears as a guest on his show and tries to “dance” with Conan as they go to commercial.

    Cartoon Conan: “Sit perfectly still. Only *I* may dance!”

    Bart: *Sigh*

    Because I wasn’t allowed to stay up anywhere near 12:35am at that age, I thought, “Who the heck is Conan O’Brien?”

    He and I actually have the same degree, but…he got his at Hahvid, that’s right. Heh heh.

    In high school though, I started watching his show, and I loved the sketches. The whole idea of selling a joke that not everyone’s going to get (or want to get) is really appealing to me. It’s as though everyone on that show was very comfortable with the fact that not everyone was going to be on board, but they did it their own way anyway. It was rocky at first, but it paid off big time. Stuff like the “Actual Items” bit, where they’d hold up “real” newspaper ads with captions in print, which implied that they were real.

    “You can’t make this stuff up, folks. WHY would you?” I love that tongue-in-cheek humour.

    “Here’s an ad for some antique coins! Look at that, those are some fine collectibles right there. But…look what it says down here at the bottom!” (Camera pans down) “These coins are SO old, you can buy SLAVES with them!” (Crowd groans) Ha ha!

    Oh, this makes me laugh like crazy:

    But more importantly, this:

    • My favorite, random Simpsons moment is when they are on a plane to China to get the baby for Patty/Semla and Homer is wasted and looks out his window. He sees a dragon who asks him for his peanuts and he refuses to share. So the dragon says to another dragon, “there he goes, the man who broke a dragons heart.” And then another dragon sings with one of those stringy instruments, “The man who broke a dragon’s heart!” Dunno why I love it. It’s so era don and yeah not something everyone would “get” or find amusing. 🙂 Are u a fan of futurama too?

      • Yeah, Futurama’s great!

        Though when it went off the air for a bit, I didn’t really find my way back to it…one of these days I’m going to get someone I know who’s got all the episodes to put them on a USB for me so I can catch up.

        I like Futurama a lot, because it’s even zanier and full of more references than The Simpsons or even Family Guy. When you remove yourself from your own “world,” and go into the future, anything’s possible.

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