I’m learning right now that with a toddler, steps towards independence often result in a backswing of clinginess, both for me and for him. I had perhaps naively thought that the demands on me would be less now that I’m not nursing around the clock, but in many ways, they have increased: there’s a person in my life who really needs my help becoming a person, and he’s less interested in kicking his little legs and staring at the ceiling and more interesting in knowing: What is dat? What is dis?
After he takes a few steps on his own, he buries himself in my lap, looking for reassurance.
* * *
Independence: is such a loaded term for parents—our kids are gaining theirs and in many ways we’ve lost ours. In the last year, I’ve become newly dependent on my parents, my husband, our babysitter, and in the meantime my child remains dependent on me. Sometimes I feel like I’m in the middle of a dependence sandwich, and I’m getting smooshed by it.
I long to do things like take a solo hike, or writing workshop, or browse stores for hours with nowhere to be. And eventually I will do these things, as my child gets more independent, granting me freedom. And then, let’s faces, I’ll probably also be sad, and miss the snuggles, and even the tears and cries of “mama.”
This week, leading up to American Independence Day, we’re exploring the idea of independence at Kveller. Some of our writers will be sharing their thoughts on the independence basics: potty-training kids, shoe-tying kids, and whether or not to buy that cell-phone for your youngster. Others will be writing about their own independence: the moments they felt liberated as younger women, and now, again, as moms taking their own, renewed steps towards self-actualization without a child in tow. Many will simply be marveling at the ways their tiny creatures have become people with minds of their own.
We hope you enjoy the selections for “Independence Week!”