“They’re here, they’re here,” squeals Mr. Three because I’m Three. My second set of parents, Helen and Barry Roome, pull up in their white mini van. My son runs to get his gear and starts to put on his shoes, chatting wildly about trains, planes and automobiles as he does so.
Once I found the lead up to this ritual challenging. Once I had a lump in my throat as I watched them drive away. It is my natural instinct to hug, but ending the hug and letting go moves against the grain. I get splinters every time.
Two competing needs/desires pull me into a place of discomfort. A place riddled with self-doubt, guilt, and heartbreak. I need to hold my son close and I need to be free of him. I need him to be dependent on me and I need him to not need me.
After he leaves, the energy in our house shifts noticeably. After he leaves, my husband and I breathe out a collective sigh of relief. For me, this relief is shaped by freedom from responsibility, freedom to carve up my day in any way I choose. I pack up motherhood — just for a short while — and reconnect with my former self. I engage spontaneously and effortlessly with my husband. I am on vacation from this wonderful and sometimes hair-pulling crazy occupation called motherhood.
When I was five months pregnant with my first-born, my friend Susan told me that motherhood will be the hardest job I will ever do. But, that it will also be the most rewarding. She was right. Unfortunately, it is easier for me to say ‘no’ to the Director of Fundraising at UVic than it is to my three-year-old some days. I’m not saying that this is as it should be; I’m just stating a fact. I have to work harder to carve out boundaries between my children and myself than I do in my professional work.
I’ve been watching my first-born go for a while now. I have a wonderful support network of women — other mothers — who have helped me to do this. My mother-in-law, Helen, and my daycare provider, Deb, are at the top of this list. Since the very first time I left my first born with Mom-e Helen, I have sternly told myself that letting him go is best for all of us and that each time I leave him with someone other than me, be it my husband, Mom-e Helen, or Deb, I am doing us all a favour.
There are, of course, the naysayers and skeptics. There are those, I’m sure, who question my choosing daycare over staying at home. There are also those who judge the amount of time my son spends with his grandparents. I can hear it in their voices. It is not up to me to determine why they feel this way. Nor is it right for me to judge the choices of others.
It is up to me, however, to stand up for my family. I have let Mr. Three because I’m Three go time after time and the only thing I can see is a wonderful, intelligent, funny, well-adjusted small human who wants for nothing. He is mothered by more than one woman and will reap the benefits of this well-rounded care, I’m sure. Sometimes, I fantasize about being a fly on the wall at his daycare or peeking in the window of Mom-e Helen’s house. But, truly what happens at Granny’s stays at Granny’s and I’m more than OK with that.
Helen tells me that sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, Corbin crawls into bed with her and they fall back to sleep. I have the sweetest picture of them in my head that completely warms my soul. He doesn’t do this with me. And, I am happy that they have this for themselves.
And so, as I watch him walk down the driveway I am calm and at peace. He is a little man. I’ve talked to Mothers who say they see their teenage sons sleeping and can still see the baby. When my son sleeps, I see the man. As he walks down the driveway, pulling his Lightning McQueen suitcase behind him and waving cavalierly, I am both amazed and heartbroken. “Have fun storming the castle,” I call out. “I will,” he responds. I am struck by the realization that this little soul is not here to be in my keeping, but rather to walk beside me, to walk beside his baby brother and to walk beside his father.
But, more than all this I am proud of myself for letting go. I am proud that I see the value in the time he spends with his grandparents and his day care provider and friends. Mr. Three because I’m Three radiates an indigo blue light that fills me up with love, hope and wonder. And I believe that it is my responsibility as his mother to ensure that everyone who wants a piece of this light gets the opportunity to fall in love with it just as I have.
“Bridge Walker” The Busy Brain @ Flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.