The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother's side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother and to become fully independent.” – Erich Fromm (German Psychoanalyst 1900-1980)
I always enjoy running across a file in my computer where I’ve documented a moment in the life of my child. Here’s a snapshot of a moment with my daughter at age 11.
It’s my daily ritual to call my daughter at daycare in the afternoons. It gives us an opportunity to connect and gives her the chance to share anything that’s on her mind prior to me picking her up. Sometimes she tells me, “Mama, I’m not feeling too good,” which is sometimes code for, “I don’t want to go to soccer practice.” Sometimes she’ll tell me, “I just want to go home and snuggle with you.”
Often she’s doing well and wants a friend to come over. Sometimes she lets me know I interrupted something fun and she’ll say,
“Hi Mama! Can I go? I was playing a really fun game!”
“Yes sweety. I just called to tell you I love you.”
“I love you too Mama! Bye!”
During those abrupt moments, I know she’s doing very well because she doesn’t need her mama. She feels secure and steady enough on her own. But just when I think she doesn't need me anymore and I stop calling, she notices. She misses my calls, even if it’s just to act like she doesn’t want to talk to me. Because of this, when she acts disinterested in the conversation, I've learned not to take it personal. Even when they are short and brief, these calls are necessary to her. It is her lifeline to staying connected. She knows I love her because I am maintaining the routine— the routine of the “I love you” call.
You have to know that my daughter has quite the incredible sense of humor and she’s very much in touch with creating joy. Being this way is a blessing to her, as well as a tremendous blessing to me. Having her in my life has connected me to the joyfulness in living. She was born wanting to laugh and smile.
During one recent call to daycare, after the daycare employee transferred my call to her, she answered in a very animated and drawn out tone, “Helloooo! Seeeeexy Maaamaaa!”
We both broke into laughter. With that unexpected greeting, the work stress I was consumed with earlier was immediately washed away with a wave of humor. My daughter’s joy catapulted me into what is essential, what really matters most. It is in these impromptu moments that we find our true nature that is joy.
She’s older now, our rituals have changed, however, the constant remains— the need to connect. At this stage of her life, and teen demeanor, she is not asking to snuggle with me, though when she resurfaces from her moods, or is having a moment of uncertainty with her boyfriend, she will initiate a connection. It could be a text, a call, or asking me to join her to go work out.
I reflect back to what I learned during her time in daycare, and I remember, the key is not to take her need for separation personally, but rather rejoice that she is secure enough to advance into this evolution of her individuality. As her parent, I can let her know that I am always here and available for her when she wants to connect. No matter the teen tug of moods, I will never give up reaching across to her. I’m the adult, I can defer to her being too busy for me, but it is my job to demonstrate my love is steady and available always.
Copyright © 2012 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved.
Image Source: © All rights reserved by Fotografie Van Kolck