Thursday, October 17, 2013

When and As Needed

On nights my infant son had a hard time settling down to sleep, I would lie on the floor next to his crib, and he'd hold one of my fingers. As he calmed down, I'd slowly withdraw it. He'd continue to toss and turn, while inch by inch I slunk across the floor toward the door. Scootch, scootch. Wait. Listen. Scootch, scootch. Repeat until I was lying on the floor of the hallway outside his door, where I'd lie and listen a little longer just to be sure.

I believe children need to learn to fall asleep on their own. I rocked, sang, and read books to my little one, but once the lights were out and I left the room, it was up to him. There were times, however, when I knew he needed more. My staying wasn't indulgent or habit-forming; it was necessary.

Stuffed Bear - Flotsam of the Mind

So I would stay. And I would let his tiny grip hold my single finger. And when he was ready, I'd slowly distance myself in a way he wouldn't notice so that he'd realize he could do it on his own.

I'm realizing that motherhood will be a lifetime of hand holding, gradual separation, and independence. My children are still in elementary school, but yet they constantly test how much they need me. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Rarely predictable. All I can do is teach them to handle things on their own, offer a hand when they need it, and imperceptibly pull away so they realize they can do it themselves.

When they are ready to do it on their own, I still will be nearby listening, waiting, and willing to hold a hand whenever they need me.

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I have linked this post at Just Write.

1 comment:

  1. hi :) what a beautiful post ! and how achingly true... motherhood in a word - bittersweet.