Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Independent Child

Once upon a time, I was a neurotic mother. When Jordan was born, I tried unsuccessfully to breastfeed, so unsuccessfully- that he probably starved his first month of life. The breastfeeding nazis slammed me by saying, "YOU MUST BREASTFEED OR YOUR BABY WILL NOT GET IMPORTANT VITAMINS AND MINERALS THAT WILL SAVE HIS LIFE IN THE FUTURE!!!" I had no breastmilk. Jordan would attach his miniscule hand to my hair, scream and cry...and I would pump, syringe feed, pump, syringe feed until I could feel my nipples no more. Yet...I had nothing. One night I had four of my power breastfeeding friends with perfect breastfeeding boobs at my house to cheer me on in my most horrifying moment of desperation. All it did was make me feel frustrated and inadequate.

Then, I tried formula and Jordan never stopped drinking. He would wake up at least six times a night for a bottle, and I was right there with him, the baby-starving, milkless mommy. We became attached. He cried, I ran. I never left him once.

We moved to Italy, found out he was deaf and I became a stay-at-home recluse when I wasn't out strolling him around and teaching him to speak. We never got babysitters because I was the only one who could understand his silent needs, the only one to alleviate his unspoken screaming frustrations.

He became our world and our life, literally.

We were the model couple for what not to do. Jordan slept in our bed for six years until I managed to transfer him to his bed and only by laying with him would he fall asleep. I was convinced he was terrified of the dark because he couldn't hear. He could only fall asleep twirling my hair.

Year by year, experience by experience he grew and we separated. Sofia's arrival and her independent nature made an enormous difference in our lives, because Jordan was no longer the center of our world- it was shared by two beautiful lives.

They have grown and are growing into two independent, self-assured children who no longer need to have their mommy by their side 24-7.

But maybe it wasn't just Jordan's needs...maybe it was my obsession in being the perfect mommy who never left her child. Perhaps, I needed to feel needed and never realized it. As much as Jordan needed to become independent and did I. So as we both let go of each other slowly...we both grew slowly to the point that I left my kids with their dad for nine whole days.

I talked to them by phone every day, and every single phone conversation I could tell that they were happy and having a great time even without their mommy. What a beautiful thing.

When I came back with bags of presents, they were happy to see me for about ten minutes and then they resumed their daily routines.

Strangely enough...I have well-adjusted kids and I am adjusting well.

Life is good.

Image c/o


Debbie said...

It's amazing to think about all we learn from our kids, isn't it? As a kid, I never thought of myself as someone who was teaching my parents about themselves as I was growing myself. I guess my Dad is right when he says "You learn something new everday. When you stop learning, you're dead!"

Julia said...

I agree with Debbie -- parenting has shed new light on my own childhood, and what my parents were experiencing that I was totally unaware of. They were learning, growing, fearful, stressed, imperfect, and far more deeply in love with me than I could have realized at the time -- at least, if my relationship with my son is anything to go by. I remember a cocoon of security and love, protected by two all-powerful and always-knowing godlike parents, and now I'm starting to appreciate them on a new level as human beings, all the more heroic because they did all that as humans, not as gods.

Unknown said...

Thanks Debbie...I think you are still teaching your parents by how you take care of Amelia- you amaze them every single day.

Love this: "all the more heroic because they did all that as humans, not as gods."

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