“Since 4th grade, Mama, you have hovered. Mom’s shouldn’t do that. Kids need to make their own way on the playground. Do their own thing.” His thirteen-year-old-wrestling-with-connected-independence-self tells me this across the dinner table the other night. I say, “I’m sorry I’ve cramped your style. I get you want space; I will work on it. It’s all about your safety…” – yada yada… At the same time as I’m saying this, the only thing I can hear is the future-twenty-year-old-wrestling-with-why-he-can’t-quite-find-peace-every-day. Remember: at 20 you still believe that is your due. Here’s the conversation with the therapist (of course):
“She hovered. I had to ask her not to call friends’ moms to ‘follow up.’ I would say I was interested in something, and she would be so quick to go find out about it. Made me crazy (still does, apparently, since I’m sitting here talking about it). I literally had to slow her down. Tell her, ‘NO.’
It doesn’t matter to me that her intentions are/were good. It was still too much. She made her life be about making my life good. I wanted that job. It got so bad I had to go to boarding school just to get space. I had to leave, to go away, to find my independence, to know my own capabilities, to know my self.
This mother-son thing is quite a trip. I’ve watched other mothers. They give more leash, more lead. What is her deal? Why so standing-over-me -all-the-time? Even if her touch was soft, and she always did get me water when I could have totally gotten it myself, it was still so much. Too much.
I can’t say she wanted to own me or have me or be me. I think she just wanted to coddle me. Like when I was a baby, in her arms, she was the wall of my kingdom…And now, on my own feet, with my own feats, I am my own wisdom wall. I am not sure she knows that or sees it or maybe she just doesn’t trust it…
This mother of mine. She needed another plan other than mine. Still does. This mother of mine she needed to pick her needles out of me, and let me go. She needed to know me for me. Know her without me. It’s as if her life began with mine. Does she not get that my life began during hers? She has more on either side of my birth than I’ve yet to have in my own life. Isn’t that enough?
Look – I know her heart ached for my safety. I wanted to reassure her, okay maybe scream at her, ‘I will be okay. Let me be.’ And when I did, she would apologize and promise me more space. And then I would want to scream at her again, but instead I would crawl into her, snuggle up to cuddle. And I would say to her, ‘…just like a big boy does.'”
©Gabriella Strecker, 2016