May 1997

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Stages and Letting Go

By Beth Weiss, Copyright 1998

This week I had the wonderful experience of holding two newborns.  They were tiny and sweet and perfect, and I had that feeling that all moms seem to be familiar with: "My children were never this small!"  In these cases, that was true—my babies never were that small—but they were that young.

Jordan and Jennica once had those perfect tiny fingers and toes with their little dimples, that newborn almost-hair, the rosebud mouth, and the slate blue infant eyes.  They still have perfect fingers and toes, but Jordan's hands stopped being "baby" hands a long time ago, and I can see how Jennica's are transforming.  She still has dimples in her elbows, but I suspect that they're not long for this world.

It's amazing how my attitude and abilities have changed as the children have changed. When Jordan was a few weeks old, it took me all morning sometimes just to get out of the house.  When Jennica was 3 weeks old, we put our house on the market (by owner) , had an Open House, and sold it.  When Jordan was 3 months old, we had tons of pictures taken, celebrated his first quarter, and always had one of us sitting beside his infant seat in the back seat of the car.  When Jennica was 3 months old, we moved across the country, and she came along in her infant seat.

For some reason, this spring has really held some revelations for me.  Jordan is finishing up kindergarten and starts first grade in the fall.  And all of a sudden, it seems, he is a big kid—a school age kid.  He's learning to read.  He does arithmetic in his head.  He remembers things from two years earlier.  And I look at Jennica, and still see "baby".  But she is as old now as Jordan was when she was born—and he didn't look like a baby to me, then—he looked all grown up and big and was such a terrific helper.

So, I'm trying to come to terms with that view of my "little girl", who sometimes says "I’m a big kid!", sometimes says "I’m a baby!", sometimes says "I'm the mama—you’re the sister!" and sometimes claims to be Peter Pan!   There are times that I look at her and want her to stay a baby—she's my youngest and my last and gosh, I don't want her to grow up so fast.  But other times, I remind myself that she needs to grow up and it's part of my job to help her do that at the right speed.

This gives rise to a host of questions, of course.  How old is "old enough"? Old enough to wipe their own bottoms?  Old enough to cross the street without holding hands?  Old enough (and reliable enough) to pour their own milk?  Old enough to live with the consequences of choosing to wear shorts and leave a jacket at home?   Old enough to get an allowance?  To make phone calls to their friends?   To put a new CD in the computer?   And as they get older, the questions get harder.  How old is old enough to get their ears pierced, to have a sleepover, to stay at home by themselves, to decide their own bedtimes, to go on a date…

There aren't any hard and fast rules, and we all have to make our own—but we all also all have to be willing to let go even as a part of us wants to hang on to our little babies.  We step back and help our children grow to their next stage, proud and pleased, but also a bit wistful for the stages left behind.

I'm finding the same thing is true of the Mothers' Club.  This is my last newsletter article as President, and so I'm letting go.  It’s been a wonderful year, and I’ve really enjoyed my time on the Board and the wonderful people I've gotten to work with.  But it's time for me to let go, and pass the notebooks and keys to our new President.   My new role will be that of a newsletter correspondent, rather than that of a Board member.   My time on the Board has been a wonderful stage for me, and I wish the new Board all the best.

Best wishes,

Beth

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