A Letter to the Protective Moms: Your Absence Encourages Independence
It does you know though many of us struggle as fierce protective mama bears that feel our physical presence is necessary for their very survival. Our Cubs that is. I was once one of you and nursed my young son through the night and as he approached his first birthday I had yet to be out of walking distance from him. We were a unit and I can not be sure who depended on who. A good friend was getting married and my husband was anxious to go, for both of us to go and so we arranged for my parents with the help of good friends and a babysitter to keep watch over our one year old for an overnight.
Just one night and I left a detailed list that could have explained how to break into a bank vault. Times of feeding, specific amounts and directions for liquids were given with alarming precision. I had considered every detail anyone could consider except the one that wasn’t revealed until years later. Simply, what if something happened to me? What would happen then?
I was unaware of this thought until a non life threatening illness when my daughter, my third child, was just two weeks old. I was diagnosed with idiopathic optic neuritis after months of traveling to specialists. If not seeking answers, I was in the hospital receiving IV steroids and then later months of chemotherapy. For the first time in my life I was unable to be there for every feeding, every bedtime story and so, I realized. As the days, weeks, and months passed by, my children survived. They were cared for by a string of caretakers other than myself and my husband learned to make bottles and how to squeeze his chubby wriggling toddler daughter into tights.
Life had not gone as planned and yet, I was aware that the fault was with my self. I adore and love my children but I don’t want them to think I am necessary for their survival. It is an injustice for them, myself, and those that are left to tend them when I am not or can not. These days I leave occasionally to for an out of town doctor’s appointment or just to take a few days to rest and replenish my energy. My children complain sometimes but they smile as I leave and greet with hugs when I return. They too know that they are strong and their independence prevails.