Being a mom is like being a 24/7 bodyguard.
From the moment I became a mother, I’ve been charged with protecting my children.
I removed all objects from the crib. Put them to sleep on their back instead of their stomach. I boiled bottles and scheduled immunizations. Safety latches were installed on kitchen cabinets and all cleaning supplies found a new home up high. I plugged all the outlets with covers, put gates around the stairs, and installed locks on all the windows. For years my boys didn’t swim at the pool without my watchful eye. Even bath time included my watchful eye. I cut their food into minuscule pieces and distributed daily vitamins. When it rained at a ball game or school picnic, I wrapped my arms around tiny shoulders, absorbing the cold so they didn’t suffer.
Though we lived only two blocks from their elementary school, I walked them to and from every day, because you never know when a predator could be lurking. I advocated with teachers, volunteered in the classroom, sent them to school with healthy sack lunches and surprised them with impromptu lunch dates in the school cafeteria. I listened for neighborhood bullying, intervening when necessary. Dental checkups and physicals were scheduled every six months and twelve months, respectively. I reviewed homework, enforced a decent bed time, applied Neosporin, took temperatures with a cheek and thermometer, shared difficult conversations about sex and drug use. I purchased safety equipment when they signed up for football and roller hockey and baseball and skating competitions. And then rushed them to the doctor when said safety equipment didn’t prevent an injury.
In spite of rolling eyes, I initiated discussions on integrity, choosing friends carefully and the importance of hard work. At times I meted out consequences in an effort to protect them from future consequences far worse than a day or two without XBox. I taught them to drive, to waterski, to make a bed, scramble eggs, pick up after themselves, slice an apple without slicing their fingers, write thank you notes, say “I love you” even when angry, and to share their toys.
For a long time it’s been my job to protect my children, to buy them time to grow up and learn how to thrive on their own. This is what has consumed my life for more than a decade. This is what I dreamed of in the decades before I held my first boy in my arms. And this is what makes my next chapter of mothering the most difficult part:
For a lifetime I’ve held. Now I have to let go.
(pic by lenscap, stock.xchng)