Monday, June 23, 2008

Separation Anxiety


I wondered when it would happen. It was inevitable, and healthy, and age-appropriate, and normal and all of those sorts of things that a mother wants for her child, but somehow it still took me by surprise. My son is growing away from me, away from his family. He is developing relationships and skills that have nothing to do with me, and he is managing those relationships and cultivating those skills on his own, neither seeking nor desiring my help or even my cognizance.

The same child who still needs to be reminded to brush his teeth each night is receiving phone calls from his friends, and when asked what they wanted responds with "nothing, it's private." Private? At seven? With friends that aren't even seven yet? I don't remember even receiving phone calls at that age, let alone private ones.

I don't mind the privacy per se really. We've already had the good secrets/bad secrets talk, and the "you can always tell us anything" talk and I'm as confident as it's possible for a parent to be that the message has gotten through. And more to the point, I can't imagine that first-graders have such devious secrets to keep, not these good, smart, well-behaved kids from good families that I know well. I'm just surprised that it's started so early. The days when I controlled his whole environment ended years ago, but this is a new level of independence, a period of pulling away and defining the boy he is going to be, not the one his mother wishes him to be. You expect some resistance and secrets in an older child, but my son is still walking that fine line between young child and older and the moments that tip the balance one way or the other often catch me unprepared. Sometimes I'm exasperated by his childishness, while other times it is the older child's sudden appearance which takes my breath away.
.
I knew about the separation anxiety that peaks at just about nine months; I was prepared for it, I'd read books. It came, we coped, it left.
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Nobody told me that there was another round at seven - or that this time it would be mine.
.

15 comments:

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I know! I barely see #1 anymore although right now, he's got two friends over and is dueling with them. I'll take it. I love the sounds of my house filled with happily playing kids.

laughingatchaos said...

I think 7 is another "break away" age. I'm starting to see it with A, just a little bit. I'm sure I'll see more when school starts up again this fall.

Chrstine said...

I'm starting to see this with Josh too. He's starting to get phone calls from friends, and it's kind of funny, because Katelyn answers the phone, and starts laughing, and passes the phone to Josh. Then Josh will ask me to use the cordless, so he can talk to his friend in his room. LOL!! Privacy, at 7. I know what you mean.It just cracks me up.

I'm going to be cleaning up my page again. Not sure why it's crashing your Google reader, but I imagine you aren't the only one.
Thank you for letting me know.

Shannon said...

Oh it is so true and I am sorry to say that it only gets harder. The word on the street is that boys really start to separate from their mamas at about 10-11. I am knee deep in that right now. It hurts but it is part of his growing up process. I suppose the alternative is to have a mom-dependant middle-aged man. I'll suffer through the separation and hope that his adoration returns to me someday.

Sounds like you are handling it like a champ, teaching him all of the important lessons. Good work!

Genny said...

Loved this post! It choked me up. I know what you mean. My daughter is starting to get calls from her friends too.

Phyllis Sommer said...

we're not there yet but thanks for the warning. you seem to be doing it all very well.

hang in there, i'm sure he'll need you when he needs the car....

Lis Garrett said...

Oh, I know how you feel. You begin to long for bedtime when they still asked to be tucked in, hugged, and kissed. You hang on to those moments a little longer . . .

He's a handsome young man. :-)

Janet said...

awwww, I hope it gets easier for you.

Robert said...

I'm ignoring most of what you just said and am savoring the fact that Lily is only 22 months old. In what you said, everything "right" is happening but at the same time...OUCH. At least you can rest in the fact that you're doing a good job. :)

Jo said...

Lovely post.......nice to see them both again!

Domestic Spaz said...

Oh I feel your pain. I think it was during a family vacation with my mom, dad, sisters, and their kids that I realized that Bug was really pulling away from me. I barely saw him the whole time... he didn't need me like Munchkin and Goober still do. He can get everything on his own, brush his teeth on his own... it's strange and makes me want to just grab him and hold on and not let go.

trish @ another piece of the puzzle said...

So you're telling me I only have 9 months left before he wants his "space"?? They grow up too fast, I think!

angie said...

It's sad, isn't it? I yearn for my children to be more independant yet I feel this loss (for me) that they are growing their own wings. I LOVE these thoughts and the picture. Fabulous.

rebecca said...

oh, robin, i'm sending you a great big bear hug!

and yet it is our job to make them independent and compassionate and loving and resourceful and smart and and and...!

oh, robin. we all know how you feel. what a wicked world this is! my daughter is now 29, lives on her own. yet, as old as she is whenever something is wrong with her pups or she is sick, guess who she's calling? for some reason, nobody else can comfort her then. and this is when we realize that we are mothers to them (in different ways thru different phases of their life) for all of their lives.

((hugs))
rebecca

planetnomad said...

I've seen my kids go through stages like that, but then they pull back a bit too, and become closer to me again. It's all fits and starts, this growing up.
LOVE that pic!