Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mommy Blues, Mommy Joy

It was hard to let Daniel go off to Boston this weekend, even though he was with his dad. I knew there would be time where the kids would be buddying up and off exploring. That's not anything new for him; he's done that on other field trips in the past -- before diabetes. Before celiac.

These teenage/high school years are tough on parents in so many ways. It is natural for our children to learn to care for themselves, and to break through the boundaries of comfort into a new, risky world. It is right for them to do this, to push away, to cause the little arguments that separate from the nest.

Really, it was only a couple of years ago that I did the same thing. No one kicked harder, screamed more, and fought against parental authority than I did. So I remember. I *know*.

Now I'm getting it back, aren't I? Not that Daniel is mean and nasty like I was; quite the contrary. We are so blessed to have an excellent relationship with him, an open, caring, communicative connection. I think that some of that is a by product of the diabetes diagnosis within the last year. We've had to rely on each other in a new, raw way that only served to strengthen our parent-child bond. I feel his needs now with the same intensity I felt when he was a newborn, the kind that mellows as children grow older and more independent. Fighting this disease brings out that early, ferocious motherlove. At the same time I see Daniel starting to slip through these bonds. Part of him holds on, I know, because he is learning a new way of life, and is thankful for the love and support Matt and I give him. But part of him is breaking away, as he should.

It's heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time to watch your child transform into an adult. You see it physically first, his arm and leg bones lengthening; his head changing shape, giving him a more focused, less wide-eyed look. Then there is a change in attitude. He's helping without asking, opening doors & carrying packages. He's discussing world events. He sees outside the bubble of his inner world. He connects with people who have sympathetic views of the world. He speaks easily with both younger kids and adults. He is thinking of who and what he will become. Yet he is still forgetful, leaving blood testing strips staining the kitchen table, and assignments for school sitting on the printer. He growls at his younger brother for touching his stuff. He is caught in between one age and the next.

So often we get wrapped up in our day to day routine. Get to school, get to work, pay the bills, worry about tomorrow. Spring break ends tonight, and the wheels will start spinning faster. I guess I just wanted to take a snapshot of this moment, before Daniel leaves childhood entirely, to appreciate him for his successes and his faults, for his bravery and his retreat. I hope I can let go gracefully, so that he will come back, fully grown, on his own to reconnect with his parents on a different, more complex level. Always in love, always in beauty.


Major Bedhead said...

This was a lovely post.

I have a 19 year-old son. It's been a mixed bag of emotions, watching him grow up and become an adult.

Jillian said...

The other day my mom said something like, "I can't believe my babies are going to be 24 and 17, I remember just bringing you home from the hospital." The internal struggle is difficult on both sides. One minute I want my mom to be with me through everything, the next I would rather not see her for a year. Growing up is such a crazy thing.

Naomi said...

Thanks, Julia & Jillian. It's quite a journey.

You never stop growing, of course (mentally). I think when we become parents we go through just as dramatic a growth spurt and world view shift as we do when we are teenagers.

Hopefully without the accompanying zits.