It’s 3.30, and I'm imagining my son leaving his classroom and making his way out into the schoolyard. He will find his way to after school care, or they will find him. He is an autonomous being. His own person, with his own life to live.
I know that. So why am I so frequently struck by this notion and so destabilised by it — the thought that my children are at this moment out there in the world where I can’t see them?
It makes me feel like a constantly unravelling ball of string — the further the kids roam, the more diminished I am, but the more liberated also. I find the levels of trust and faith I have to employ as a mother overwhelming sometimes. If only freedom — mine and theirs — didn’t seem to come at such a price!
Yesterday my daughter’s kinder teacher told me she was being targeted for bullying by a little boy she’s known her whole life. That day he had tipped a vase of flowers over her head, and when he was told that it was now his responsibility to clean it up, my daughter offered to help him.
This broke my heart — even more so, somehow, after a full morning of such appalling tantrums that I was driven to think: ‘Jeez, you’re lucky I love you so much, because this is the kind of thing that drives less adoring people to murder children!’ (Can anyone describe those unbearable hours when a child won’t stop whinging and screaming and throwing things at you? At those times, some part of me is forced to shut down, just in order to cope.)
I still worry that I haven’t got the guts for it. That I don’t have what it takes to override my own desperate fears in order to give my kids the space and trust they need to grow. That I haven’t got the discipline to avoid succumbing to lazy strategies — or rivalling my children’s behaviour with equally juvenile behaviour of my own.
Nothing rang more true for me than the wonderful Mindy Sotiri’s notion that parenting requires “a superhuman effort. Sometimes a more than superhuman effort.” Oh, how I agree with that! Superhuman effort — on a daily basis. And I have the great luck of having children without significant problems.
This is a very sentimental post, isn’t it? Must be the afternoon light…