I love independence. I'm not talking about myself, but about my children. My favourite mothering moments come when I watch my children fly a little farther from the nest.
I know I'm not common among mothers in this area. I know most moms shed tears when their children go off to kindergarten, or hold them closer to home a little past when their children want to wander out, or revel in the smell of their kids' laundry. They want to stop time and have their children forever. Me, I get a rush from seeing my kids growing up.
It's not that I want them gone from my care; I often joke with Benjamin that he has to stop growing and stay my little boy forever. He grins, then goes up on tiptoes, reaches his arms to the ceiling and opens his eyes as wide as they'll go, pronouncing: "I'm growing Mommy!" Secretly I love it. I love that I am training them to be wonderful, amazing human beings. I love to see their progress as they learn, practice and master new things. They are young for only a short time; most of their lives will be spent as adults. For a few short years they are my children, in training, but most of their lives they will be my friends, my allies, my partners. We will go out in this world and conquer it together. While they (and I) will never stop learning, they will only be under my direct tutelage for a moment, and then we will learn and grow together.
That excites me.
Colin turns eight in December, and I see the ages of eight to twelve as a whole new stage. This is a time when the real training for independence starts. He will have four years to work by the side of adults to observe and learn tangible skills for adulthood. He will learn household chores: cooking, cleaning, laundry. He will learn social skills: the telephone, the computer and internet, hosting. He will learn work skills: serving others, how to labour hard, how to tackle hard problems. We will push him to his limits and then ask him to go further. Because once he is a teenager, we as parents will move from teacher to coach. We will no longer stand at his side, but cheer from the sidelines. We will call him in to give him guidance, and then send him back out on the field again, alone. That stage will last only six years before he must be prepared to walk into the world without us.
But it doesn't scare me. It excites me.
That's why I'm so excited when my kids show signs of independence. It means I'm succeeding in this terribly hard task of motherhood.