Posted on | August 4, 2014 | 1 Comment

In a cyclical turn of events, one of my co-workers has just returned from maternity leave this morning. As I watched her hold back tears as she unpacked a box of framed pictures, I couldn’t help but remember when my own maternity leave was over and I found myself robotically re-entering the work force while my child spent time away from me for the first time.

I say cyclical, because just this weekend it occurred to me how old my son is now, with his lanky legs and messy hair. He spends much of his time away from me now, learning math and science and English and… well… life. He is tall and gangly and full of attitude and honestly, he is as far removed from the baby he once was as I ever thought he’d be… though hopefully not as far as he will one day be.

As my co-worker muddled through her last weekend at home with her sweet baby boy, I muddled through a weekend of my own, entering into uncharted territory with J. At nearly five, he is desperate to read, spending every waking minute (that he isn’t watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) staring longingly at words on a page. He is so desperate to read.

And you guys… he is getting there. Each sounded out syllable and carefully twisted sound is coming faster now, as he learns that sometimes the “a” is “ah” and sometimes the “a” is “ay.” I feel so proud even as each word moves him farther away from the safety of babyhood, from the safety of… well… me. Soon, he won’t want to snuggle up with me as I read to him. Soon, he won’t want to snuggle up with me at all, opting instead for a flashlight and book the way I did as a child. Soon, I hope, he will be whisked away into the wonderful world of books, where everything is magical and there is no need for me.

Parenting is such a power struggle between what you want for yourself and what you want for your child. Because, for me… I want my son. I want him to need me as much as I need him. But for my son, I want the opposite. For my son, I want freedom and a life well outside my arms. I want him to experience his own life, his own heart… and it feels like reading is just the first step on a long path of moving away.

So I hugged my co-worker this morning as she wiped away stray tears. I hugged her because I understand that longing… that overpowering need to be near the person you love most. I understand feeling that so much of your heart is somewhere else, experiencing something else… being someone else. And it is painful and beautiful all at the same time. I hugged her because she is suddenly the closest thing to my own experience, my own desire to keep my son small and with me, even as I yearn to watch him spread his wings and fly.

So though my heart longs to have him near, like my co-worker, I will satisfy myself with an office, a lifetime, full of pictures. Because more than anything, I want my son to be free. And reading has always been my own freedom… I hope it will one day be his as well.


One Response to “Freedom”

  1. Thushari
    August 5th, 2014 @ 10:17 am

    I have a similar video of my then-four year old sounding out his first sentence☺ He is six now and is a confident reader. Reading is my greatest pleasure and it’s wonderful to see your child following in your footsteps. You will be amazed by how fast he will progress in Kindergarten!

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