As my children are growing up, I have often heard older, more experienced mothers say that children need you more when they are teenagers than when they are babies. And as I have one that is on the verge of college, one that is smack dab in the middle of middle school and the little one still in elementary, I was thinking the other day, is this true? Does my teen, tween, or my not so baby need me more?
The college bound lovely doesn't need me to sit on her for homework, or for the day to day ritual. She needs to know that I am there. And frequently texts in or checks in with a two minute call, or sometimes longer on issues such as, "What do you think about this college? I'm nervous, can you help me study for that test? Would you pick up new contacts..." I will boast, despite not having a full keyboard on my phone, I have managed hour long texting conversations on college choice, track training schedules, and study schedules. And I will admit texting has brought us even closer.
The middle one is more aloof, giving every single adult in her life the idea she needs no one. Only proving she is the daughter that needs me the most. Needless to say, she has spent the majority of our life together, so far, pushing me away. At first, I rebuffed, but now I let her steer the course of our relationship. Not seeking out that good bye kiss, or providing without first being requested the good morning cozy. I let her come to me, which for this very squeezy mom, was quite difficult at first. So, imagine my recent surprise, after returning from a week away, at her many requests to sit close, or for cuddle time. Interesting, and though she demands I never go away again, I just might...
The little one has the best of all worlds, but don't tell her you read that here. She has all the cozies she wants and much more independence than her sisters had at this point in their lives, as she slides through on their coat tails. For example, this summer, while on a camping trip the tweens and teens were full throttle set to swim across the pond. Adults in boats, offering safety support and a gunwale to rest upon, were cued to escort the hearty swimmers. And then came the little one, "I want to, too."
This parent paused. And in that moment of thought I fully reflected on the fact that I had not once, ever let my oldest more than 20 feet from me, until she was ending middle school. And now I was thinking it was okay to let this sub two digit child, swim, (with a life jacket on), across a pond. Of course she did it. But more impressively, I did it. Crazy mom...
And my answer is, They all still need that parental support, as always, but differently.
p.s. When I awoke this morning I discovered two small, but very warm bodies in my bed; all cozied up on either side of me. It could be love, but I have to give credit where credit is due. The outside temperature was below freezing last night. The little ones were cold. Still, it was nice to be needed.