It’s the moment I have been waiting for – the time when dropping Lucas off at nursery he smiles and cheerily walks away instead of the usual teary-eyed boy standing banging at the nursery window as he sees me walk away like he’s imitating Dustin Hoffman in the dramatic final scene from The Graduate.
So, the day finally came when I dropped off my little boy and he happily skipped off into the toy-filled sunset waving me bye-bye and even throwing an air kiss my way. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t filled with the pure joy I expected to feel in this moment knowing Lucas has fully adapted to his new environment and I have the luxury of a few hours of freedom, but instead in the pit of my stomach was a feeling that’s hard to explain but it resulted in the tears pouring from my eyes this very day instead of my boys’.
Of course I was pleased to see how secure Lucas now is in his home away from home, but I also saw the future flash before my very eyes and key moments in his life such as leaving for his first trip away from home jumping all the way through to him packing his bags and leaving for university filled my irrational and emotional head. It may seem small to some (including Lucas’s Papa who I am sure added this situation to ‘mummy’s disproportionate reactions to situations’ list), but this is the first key moment of seeing my boy grow up and taking his first steps into independence – both a proud and slightly unnerving moment for any parent.
What’s next I wonder in this journey of independence? Happily feeding himself with actual utensils as opposed to his favoured fingers? Taking himself off to bed? Pooping without the need of mama or papa coming to survey what delightful present he has left for us within the Pampers filled package? Ooo, come to think of it – I could get used to this growing up business!
As a parent you are forever fighting the contradictions – preparing your little one to be an independent, well-adjusted and confident individual while also dreading the day they leave your side or don’t need you as much as they once did. As with nearly all the parenting dilemmas we face, there is no answer – it simply is the natural way and you learn to take each day as it comes usually with a helping hand or glass of whatever you can get your hands on.
I am happy to report that when I go to collect Lucas from nursery his little face still lights up and he runs towards me with open arms as fast as his chubby little legs will carry him and plants a big, fat, wet kiss on my face. I am under no illusion these voluntary public displays of affection are also limited in time and due to expire before I know it, so for now I will take all the sloppy kisses that come my way and will enjoy the time when it comes to share with my boy that he once did this – preferably at the time when he brings the first girl home to meet us which should help lighten the mood of that particular step of independence which I am, of course, already dreading…