Friday, April 16, 2010
The Dance of Mothering
With each step of Ky's development my mothering grows and adapts to his needs and much like the tides of the ocean being pulled in and out by the moon my actions often feel like a dance. There are missteps, frustrations and worries but instincts and space seem to help me over the bumps and keep perspective for me as well.
As we've taken baby steps to remove cords one by one that have bound us so tightly over these last two years I've come to see that mothering is a series of little pushes. Knowing when to push your child forward, away from you and closer to the independent adult they will one day be (but wow that is hard to imagine for me at this point) I say pushes because I don't think you are leading necessarily as then you would be pulling your child forward, rather you stand behind knowing where they need to step next and encourage that to happen. The instinct to hold on to our little ones is strong, to protect, to preserve innocence but I want to empower him, give him good roots and strong wings to fly his own path in the world and so I can't squeeze too tight or pretend that with each day he does not grow. The pace of growth changes with each child, perhaps some jump forward with out encouragement but Ky is a person of habit, change is usually met with some hesitation and some resistance. And we work through things in his time and decided whether to take the next step or wait for a while and try again.
As Ky laid in his crib peacefully drifting off to sleep while holding my hand the other night I thought of the often silent but present doubt that he would ever reach that stage. Because he had slept with us for most of his life there were those that doubted, some felt that he could be too dependent on us for too long. But again he proved to me that he would give cues that I would have to pick up on and then I would give him the slightest of nudges towards trying something on his own. The process felt/feels organic and natural. It was not convenient for myself or Dave, it was not easy, quick, or without many sleepless nights, tears and frustration (mostly from me) But it is happening and I hope that this process of learning to sleep on his own is laying the foundation for Ky to have healthy sleeping patterns for the rest of his life.
We, as mothers and parents never stop giving these little pushes. Our parental relationship requires that we continue to encourage what feels right towards the next step in our child's development. Unfortunately I think many parents miss some stages, push too soon, too hard or don't push at all for reasons that only they can know perhaps their own childhood or personal blocks. This leaves some children, teenagers and young adults (heck even full adults) with serious independence issues, lack of direction or feelings of inadequacy. I see it in many peers of my generation who struggle with accepting the reality of adulthood. Believe me though this is not a blame the parents mantra, nor do I exclude myself from these qualities because whether we have the best parents or not nothing and no one is ever perfect.
My point here is that as this dance advances and the steps become more complex and the stages become more far reaching I strive to keep perspective as a mom and not let my own issues cloud Ky's being. I don't want him to have my hang ups, I'm sure he'll develop enough on his own as it is. So I push a little, encourage and wait. Take his cues, backup two steps and then we walk forward one. Cues come that it is time to try again and this time we dance a bit longer towards learning something new and then again we wait. Books say things, people say things, other kids his age are doing things but all Ky and I and his Dada can do is dance our dance and let the natural rhythm of life unveil itself in due time.