Pieces of me

In our house we have recently boarded the emotional roller coaster that is the end of maternity leave and the beginning of day care.

To be clear, the emotional roller coaster part has so far mainly applied to me, and much less to my one-year-old son. Like so many parts of my parenting experience, parenting my way through this transition seems to be about managing my own emotions and behaviour as much, or more, than it is about helping my son with his.

For his part, my son seems to have adjusted remarkably well. One week after beginning day care, our drop-off involved no tears whatsoever. He even willingly went to our day care provider when she reached out for him. In my head, ecstatic. In my heart, dagger.

I want my son to be a confident, well-adjusted kid. I want him to know absolutely that I am always there for him and to feel loved unconditionally — while also being able to trust and build relationships with others. I don’t want him to be the stereotypical “mama’s boy”… and yet, I kind of do. Not really, not truly, of course, but there is a very visceral part of my heart that just wants him to stay my sweet little baby forever, cuddled close to my chest.

A friend of mine recently told me that scientists have discovered that, after birth, some of a baby’s cells may stay inside his or her mother for months or even years or decades afterwards. This makes perfect sense to me. I have found myself explaining to my husband that separation from our son is difficult for me in part because our little buddy has been inside or attached to me for the better part of two years. That’s a hard connection to shake, even without accounting for any cells of his which might still be floating around inside my body.

Another friend told me that her transition back to work after the birth of her son was one of the most traumatizing times of her life. I am beginning to understand why.

Until these past few weeks, I don’t think I truly understood the saying that being a mother is like having a piece of your heart living outside of your body. I always thought, “That’s a nice, sentimental idea”. What I didn’t understand is that watching my son grow into his independence would be at once exhilarating and terrifying, fascinating and devastating. My heart fills as I watch him make new friends, and breaks when he falls. That’s one hell of a ride for we mamas to contend with.

All the more so because I want my son to be blissfully unaware of the turmoil of my inner struggle so that he can carry on with the business of growing up. I don’t want to make him anxious. I don’t want to hold him back. Ultimately, what I want is to watch that little piece of my heart skipping joyfully away from me, ready to take on the world. No matter how hard it is to watch.

~ Shannon

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4 Comments

  1. Leslie says:

    Hey girls – amazing blog concept!! I’m just starting month 5 of 12 on my mat leave so I don’t have an experience yet with going back to work. However, a lot of the things you have both posted about resonated with me in respect to being apart from my daughter. I love the feeling of being needed so fully by my tiny person, but at the same time I find myself longing for those personal moments of free time that I just took for granted pre-mom.

    Right now, for example, my husband has taken her over to his parents house for a few hours so that I can enjoy some time to myself. I was thrilled at the idea when he brought it up earlier today (I’ve been longing to give myself a manicure!!) But now that they’re gone, I feel a little knot in the pit of my tummy. I just want to smell her and feel the weight of her in my arms again, painted fingernails be damned!!

    Anyways, sorry for the long comment but I’m really enjoying your posts and perspectives. Keep it up 🙂

    Like

    • raiseamother says:

      Great to hear from you, Leslie! Both of us have definitely experienced motherhood so far as a much more complex thing than we ever expected. And we’re really just getting started too! Looking forward to hearing more from you 🙂 – Shannon

      Like

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