I’m not sure how other parents are affected by the arrival of children in their lives, but for me, it was like a switch got flipped the second my firstborn took her first breath. In that flicker of time, my nurture-and-protect mechanism went from fairly non-existent to full-tilt-boogie.
Now, between the ages of newborn and two or three, no one bats an eye when you go into vicious-mama-bear-protecting-her-cub mode. It’s expected. But then our little darlings start to branch out. Start sniffing at the new world via preschool and playdates.
One of the hardest things for me to figure out as my girls have grown is knowing when it’s time for me to cut another thread on the apron strings.
Yesterday, I cut another string. And, frankly, I’m still not sure how I feel about it.
It was the dreaded moment any working couple faces:
Can’t Miss Meetings at Work + Sick Kid + No One to Cover Sick Kid = Oh, Shit
Now hubby is more than happy and able to help out covering kiddos 99.9% of the time, and I’ve got a wonderfully flexible employer, which makes the “Can’t Miss Meetings” few and far between. But yesterday was the perfect storm. I was already at work, tasks lined up deeper than I feared I could tackle, when my ten year-old called me crying so hard she could barely talk. It was her stomach.
Now, I’m pretty good with triage. It’s one of my strengths. My brain leapt to the occasion and in about a nanosecond processed that hubster and I were in deep doo-doo. He had auditors to lead around at work and I had a guy coming in from out of town for an interview. No way could I get home to cover until mid-morning at the earliest. So, we tried something new…
The ten year-old flew solo for two hours.
Longest two hours of my life.
I worried that something would happen before I could get there. That she’d open the door to some stranger even though she swore she wouldn’t. That someone would pick that particular moment to break in and see if we had any Christmas goodies yet. That she was suffering from appendicitis instead of a stomach bug and would be dead before I could get there.
Ok, so maybe that last one is a bit melodramatic. But I don’t think I’m the only mom who churns up worst-cast scenarios when it comes to their kids.
In the end, everything was fine. I got home to find her curled up, asleep in bed with the dog cozzied next to her. I got her up and shuffled her off to the doc who assured me all was well and good with my girl except for a stomach bug.
<Insert very deep exhale here.>
I’m still processing leaving her alone. Hubby, who’s way less emotional about this stuff (thank God), said, “See, I told you she could do it.” He’s usually the stronger of the two of us when it comes to cutting threads to the apron strings, but this (for me anyway) seems to be a REALLY BIG STRING.
Has anyone else struggled with this? Determining the “just right” time in a kiddo’s life where you think they can really fly solo? When you know they’ll make good judgment calls without you there to guide them?
I’m sure I’ll have more opportunities to deal with this in the near future. Kiddo has now had a taste of flying solo and isn’t nearly as nervous…but I think mommy’s gonna need a breather before we give it another go.