The first blatant sign happened this fall when my oldest, B, walked off the bus and crossed the road to the safety my arms…except he didn’t walk into my arms. That was the sign. For the last two years I have always gotten an exuberant, best-mommy-ever-hug each and every afternoon as the big, yellow, bus delivered my oldest to me. I still get a hug from the middle brother, C, who almost knocks me over like a lab puppy, but not from B. He made it clear on that first day when he shrugged his shoulders and said, “I think I’m too old to hug you anymore.”
I smiled and touched his hair, probably totally embarrassing, “OK, maybe we can give each other a hug later when no one is watching.”
“Yeah” he liked this option.
This is what we want. This is what his dad and I have been working towards: independence. I didn’t get upset, throw a fit, take it personally…it was what it was…a sign of the times.
B is still very much a little boy. The other day he saw me in his school and raced over to grab my hand only to have his little eyes fill with tears when he learned I wasn’t there to work in his classroom. I wanted to cry too. At night he always wants a snuggle and could, “You please run your fingers through my hair.” But there is a little “leave and cleave” going on within him. Today when he got home from school I asked him for a hug, once we were in the house and no one from the bus would be able to see us, and he looked at me and said, “Maybe later, like tonight.” That one did hurt a bit.
I’m also learning to give him space in other areas, trying to give him room for his personality. C and I are verbal processors. B is not. I finally agreed to stop asking him about his day right when he gets home. He promised to eventually tell me about it, especially if he thinks anything very interesting happened. I’ve been trusting this process, and it appears to be working for me. B’s actually telling me more stuff about school than he has ever before. And it is way more interesting than the forced short-answers I was getting before about if he chose a chicken burger or hamburger for lunch and if he played kickball or soccer at recess. (I’m learning things like, “Miguel is really fun. He said…”
However, I’m glad we had a third boy, A. I think I might be quite emotional with all this growing up if I didn’t have at least one more preschooler at home. In no way do I want to go back to that era of blending baby food, toilet training, and sleepless nights, but the nostalgia visits are sweet. I do hate that my memory does get hazy with time. I was so certain I would always remember.
Still, I can take myself back to those first days when I brought home my first newborn to a quiet and peaceful house. I can hear the way the wood floor creaked under my tip-toes. I can smell the special bath lotion that I used religiously each night at the kitchen sink, and feel the cozy texture of those first sleepers. Our world slowed a bit and became focused on one little person. There is a simplicity in becoming a new mom that can only be discovered once, and so I take the time to remember and savor it because there is nothing quiet and calm and simple anymore about parenting. My counters are full of backpacks and lunch boxes, soccer uniforms to be washed and folded, homework to be monitored, and little lives to be fostered towards more and more independence.
These moments of no-more-hugs are really affirmations that all is going well. And I like that.