I’m a bit of a parenting book junkie. And if there is one thing that (almost) all of them agree on it’s that parenting is, in large part, about learning to let go. It’s common sense, really. If you want a child to grow up to be a confident, self-sustaining, independent person, they must, at some point, be left to sustain themselves, independently – and here’s the kicker — with a confident you somewhere in the background, not holding their hand.
But does it have to be so soon??
With Lilly in her second year of preschool, I’ve learned a little bit about letting go – the good and the bad. Watching my little girl walk confidently into a new classroom and make friends immediately: good. Choking back tears and prying her hands off of me as she begs me not to leave on the mornings when she really doesn’t want to go: bad.
Still, I know the good outweighs the bad at this stage in Lilly’s life. But Henry? My sweet little Henry? Do I have to? According to my husband, who is tired of being kept awake by baby snores and cries just a couple inches from our bed, yes. Yes I do. Alright, alright, the pediatrician says it’s time for him to move to his own room too. And I know it’s true if I want either – or any – of us to get decent sleep in upcoming months. But, simply put, I just don’t want to.
Now, I should sincerely apologize to those moms and dads whose various work leaves expire around this time and they have to let go in a much more severe way. I do not mean to sound like a spoiled, ungrateful SAHM. But another universal of parenting is that all things are relative. So, for me, moving Henry to another room is my first big “letting go.” And I don’t want to.
The thing is that it’s just easier to let go as they get older. Lilly is ready to be on her own, playing with her peers rather than mommy. She asks to go to school on most days. And while she still gives me lots of good cuddles that I will crave like crazy in ten years (if not much sooner), there are also times when she rebuffs my affection. I’m letting go, but she’s pulling away also. If I don’t let go, there’s attitude and tantrums.
But with Henry, not so. He doesn’t want me to let go yet either. The protests come when I let go, not the opposite.
No, no, Mommy! Hold me more! Smile at me more! Snuggle with me more!
I’ve been trying to will myself to this transition for a while now. It all boils down to this: Henry is my baby. The baby of my babies. Almost definitely my last baby. I’ll never have those sweet baby snores inches from my bed again after Henry. So, I’ve been dragging my feet. I had to find just the right monitor; I blamed his reflux (the crib’s too flat!); and, ultimately, I flat out refused to be rushed.
But it’s time. I’ve known it all week. We are keeping each other awake and sleep training must begin. So I’ve been waiting for the right time. I needed a little bit of something, a little something special, to tell me it’s ok. The perfect night if there is such a thing, so that I can look back and feel I truly appreciated what I had when I had it. Last night was that night.
One of the things I’ll miss the most when he’s in the crib is reaching over and calming him with just a touch of my hand and the occasions when he actually holds my hand as we drift off to sleep. So last night when Henry began fussing I tried to seize the moment. I reached over to the bassinet to pat his tummy as he so enjoys, but he was just a bit too far away. Alas, my hand was left dangling over the side of the bassinet just inches from my baby but unable to reach him. He was calming on his own so I didn’t dare disturb him by pulling the bassinet closer. Then, just as I resigned myself to simply listening to his sweet baby sounds, a little hand reached up, grabbed my pinky and held it tight. And we both drifted off to sleep. . . not letting go. It was perfect.
I’m out of excuses. Tonight, I let go.
The Letting Go by MushBrain, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Terms and conditions beyond the scope of this license may be available at mushbrain.net.