I wrote this post a little over 4 years ago. With my second (and last) “child” getting ready to make a similar move from home, it brings back memories. Memories of happy times with littles, and memories of struggles and challenges over how to raise them. If you have young kids at home, maybe this will speak to you. Maybe you need to know that it will all be alright. No. It will be amazing.
Almost 20 years ago…
I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was happy and VERY active – and was very clear about what she did and did not want. She was intense and liked being held, rocked and nursed to sleep; she wanted to be close. I practiced attachment parenting with her and responded when she cried, picked her up, slept with her. All the things I felt we both needed. Although it felt like a LOT of work, I still did it. I responded at night as well, even though it was exhausting. I tried to let her “cry it out” once but then knew that wasn’t for us (translate: it was horrible).
As she became a toddler…
her intensity increased and although she was busy and independent, she still wanted me close. She needed me to lie down with her before going to sleep. During the night she’d crawl into my bed – eventually transitioning to a “nest” next to our bed – until she was 5. There were nights of frustration for me – I felt I needed my space and wanted this little person to just deal with it on her own. But she insisted – and I responded. Tired, but hopeful that this was the right thing. Because you know what the “experts” were saying – I was making her dependent and not teaching her self-reliance.
A week ago today…
that child moved away from home. After a year in a dorm at college, she has rented a townhouse with friends. Her intention is to live there until she graduates – staying where she is during the summer and working. She has made it very clear she loves us and will miss us, but she is ready to take on life independently as an adult. She is human and has moments of doubt, but she is one of the most confident, self-aware people I have ever met.
She is beyond fine – she is ready for the world. And she knows that we are here if she ever needs a soft place to land or a pep talk. Or money. 🙂
I post this not to pat my husband and I on the back for the great parenting job we did (because much of the time we suck), but as encouragement to those of you raising young children. If you pick them up every time they cry, you are NOT spoiling them. If you sleep with them, they WILL eventually sleep on their own. Your attention to them is not making them more dependent – but letting them know they are safe and well and that they are loved. And with that knowledge, they will be able to face the world on their own – with confidence and security.
And darn it, hug them close. Because they WILL be moving out tomorrow .
P.S. My now adult kid is a college graduate and continues to successfully navigate the world – even (especially!) in our very challenging current time – with grace and determination.