Yes, Children Grow Up, And It Hurts – A Lot
The other day I looked my son and it really hit me how much he has grown up. This isn’t the first time this has happened, but every time it does, I am hit with a moment of pride and sadness.
I am proud of my son for how much he has achieved in his short life, but I am also sad at the prospect that my little boy will one day be my not so little boy.
Where is my baby?
The first time I noticed my son getting older, he couldn’t have been more than a couple of months old, maybe even younger. I remember looking at him and thinking “he looks so grown up”, he has lost his newborn looks, he looked like a baby. I remember having mixed feelings, back then I was still a mess and was wishing the days away and couldn’t understand what people loved about newborns. However, despite this I still remember the slight pang of sadness.
I still do not understand what people love about newborns, I almost went crazy. I do however understand why people want them to stay little forever. I quite like my son at the age he is at the moment, yes there are difficult moments (tantrums). Still, I am liking his level of independence but at the same time he is still little enough that everything is new and fascinating.
Why do we struggle to cope?
It’s funny when you think about it, we have children knowing that one day they will grow up. We know that we are here to help them grow into fully functional adults. We know that independence is the end goal that we work toward from day one. We spend their whole lives getting them to the next stage. So, why do we feel sad that they are doing what they are meant to do?
I know my son needs to be independent, and I want my son to be independent. If I am honest, I wouldn’t really like to think that he still needs me so much when he is in his 30s. However, at the same time it has crossed my mind before that it would be nice if he could stay this little forever.
I suppose for me it is the fear of the unknown, I know what he is like now. I have no idea what he will be like as an adult. He is also at the age now where I am his complete world. I already feel a bit of a distance from him since he has started going to childcare. I know that the older he gets the less he will need me. It’s not that I want to control his every move, but as he gets older it will be harder to know my place and where I fit in.
When I look back to my teen years and my year adulthood and how I did not really give them a second thought as I started to make those last moves to full independence. I really cringe at my behavior, it’s not that I ever treated them bad, however, it’s only now that I have my own child has it occurred to me to think about how it must have felt. My parents never let on that they felt any sadness, in fact the have celebrated everyone of my milestones to independence. However, deep down it must have hurt.
So how do we cope?
I, personally, use my own parents as an example. As I mentioned above, if they ever felt any hurt, they never let on to me. They always put a big smile on their face and cheered me on, whatever happened. I always knew they were on my side and they would be happy for me.
It’s the same tactics I use for my own son, not matter how tough I have found sending him to childcare, or how sad I feel about him starting school, or how mixed I feel whenever he does something that seems so grown up, I always smile. I always tell him how proud I am of him, how exciting everything is. How much of a big boy he is now. It hurts, but it’s the end goal. It will happen regardless of how I feel, I cannot control time. So, I will cheer him on, like my parents cheered me on.
As my son gets older, I have no doubt that it will get harder. Especially when he decides he doesn’t need me anymore, that I am more of a hindrance than a help. I do dread him becoming a teenager, however, I will take comfort in the fact that it is normal, it is a phase. The majority of teenagers go through it, and most come out the other side as perfectly civil adults. It seems such a long way away at the moment, but I’m sure time will fly by quickly.
In the meantime, whilst I don’t particular like the cherish every moment message that gets blasted around. I will cherish the good moments and work through the bad. When he is an adult, and he is living his own life, I will always remember the little baby who screamed the house down every time I tried to put him down. I will smile, maybe even cry and I will be left wondering, what happened?