And there he goes, onward bound without even as much as a glance backwards at his mommy. At 16 months of age, his desire for independence is already peeking through (to put it mildly). He doesn’t want me to hold his hand or climb the steps with him. No, he wants to do it all by himself. Where is the “dislike” button for this? “Wait for me,” I beg. “Wait for mommy,” I plead to no avail. The strong desire to “do it on his own” has unraveled me a little. I want him to “need” me. I need him to need me. In a sense, I feel like a love-struck teen age girl chasing after the love of her life. He certainly has me wrapped around his little finger just the same.
I don’t have to ask. I know it’s only going to get worse. He’s going to continue to grow and demand more and more independence. He’s going to need me less and less. And my heart is going to break over and over. I thought I knew what being a mother was all about before I became one. I thought being a mother meant giving bottles, changing diapers, cooking dinner, cleaning, doing laundry, saying yes and mostly saying no. I never factored the emotional equation into motherhood. Sure, I always heard the old saying, “when they’re young, they’ll walk on your toes, but when they’re older, they’ll walk on your heart.” I thought I was safe at least until he turned 16.
An article on Parents’ website refers to this as a <a href=”“>”Toddler’s Declaration of Independence”. The article goes on to describe how my son, as a toddler, is attempting to balance “what he wants to do with what he can do,” and how this is an internal battle for him. I had not really considered this aspect of the power struggle and corresponding temper tantrums until now. Although I doubt it will calm my nerves at the onset of these occurrences, it does give me better insight and understanding of how his little brain operates. (Bless his heart!) Seriously, it must be tough trying to remember that he can’t touch the hot cup of coffee but he can touch the cup of juice. There are so many things to learn and understand that of course there are going to be moments of frustration and struggles between parent and child. However, this “declaration of independence” should have come with a warning label, “may cause excessive weeping and/or screaming”. I’m not ready to begin “letting go” at such an early age. But, ready or not, there he goes.
UPDATE: I just read an incredible post about cultivating a kind, gentle voice. It’s funny how often I’m led to just the right post at just the right time. Considering how much my patience has been tested as a direct result of my toddler’s new found independence, I desperately needed to read this!