Sunday, April 26, 2009

Separation Anxiety

"My red is coming out!!!!" Toby yells. His alarm is always disproportionate to the actual trauma, so I have no idea if its a hangnail or a severed arm when he summons my highly qualified medical self to come rescue him. I nonchalantly grab a napkin and take it to the living room where he and Greg have all 87 parts of a ceiling fan sprawled out on the floor. Toby is sobbing and flipping me the bird. Well, not the actual bird, but he is sobbing and pointing my way with his injured middle finger.

"Is it a paper cut?" I ask because I forgot my go-go-gadget magnifier for microbooboo locating. "Mo-o-o-omm-y-y" he opens his mouth into such a wide cry that his lips barely reconnect for the m's. "I think your gonna make it buddy," I say. Greg returns to his screwdriverish super-project while I rinse Toby's finger in the kitchen sink.

Our underconcern makes him anxious-- as if some day he will puncture an artery or catch on fire and his parents might keep on weed-eating or browning turkey meat while he bleeds to death on the kitchen tile.

This is the part of four that baffles me. At two, I knew I could scoop him up and hold him for just a skinned knee. It felt so right reassuring him, letting him cry it out however long he wanted. Now I waffle between coddling and indifference, searching for a proper balance that won't land him in therapy twenty years from now.

Even more perplexing is his simultaneous need for manhood. One minute he wants gauze wrapped around an indiscernible wound, and the next he is following his dad up the ladder with a real screwdriver in his fist. I furiously dig through his plastic tool set for a safer toy replica wondering who to blame for his inconsistency, him or me?!

What I want is to have him both ways. I want him to be tough, independent, capable and I also want him to need me. I let him go with a wary unclenching of hands, then give him whiplash yanking his little self right back. Independence requires something of both of us that still feels foreign. I know I should lead and encourage him, but that requires a hint of risk, of danger that I'm too afraid to allow. The nurturing part is so much easier.

I think this will be my battle always. Like in the book "Love You Forever" when the old mother crawls through her grown son's apartment window and rocks him while he sleeps. Everything about that page is disturbing and muddled. You want to yell through the watercolor "Cut the cord, lady!" But when you sit on the bed next to a pair of chubby, bare feet you can't very well cast blame. It'll take everything you have to keep your own feet from clambering up behind her.


  1. Amen, A mothers love is tremendous. I have heard of so many women leaving their husbands AND children. I cannot even imagine.
    Can you imagine how Mary felt? Watching her son being crucified, even knowing he was the son of God....I'm not sure I would have been so brave.

  2. :) that makes me smile. i had a friend who injured himself often. and he told me how one time in his late teens, he was on a dirt bike. came walking up to the house, while his mom was vacuuming or mowing the lawn, and says,"mom i think i broke my shoulder". her immediate response was, well can you wait for me to finish and then we can go to the hospital? hahah makes me laugh every time.

  3. Every single time, you deliver.

    You are one gifted writer. Keep it coming.

    Love you.

  4. You are such a gifted writer, Andi. I think you just described perfectly what every mother feels towards her son. I never knew I could love a person so completely. And I don't really see what the big problem is with clambering up that ladder, either.

  5. Love bein a momma. Love it.

  6. I COMPLETELY understand! So well put!

  7. Ang, so funny, great writing. Something about that book creeps me out with the mom breaking and entering her son's house across town not to mention climbing a ladder at 80 years old. Looking from the outside in at a boys upbringing is a strange place for me. My perspective has always been from a boy's vision of "this is happening to me" and now it's from the "I am teaching him this" direction. It's pretty cool to see both sides and to be a part of the molding that shapes our boy's ability to view life with open eyes.

  8. I hear you about the over-hysteria when they get "hurt" (for my 6-year old anyway - her 3 year old sister is tough as nails!) Sure makes me feel bad when someone really is hurt and I'm not running to the scene! A fine balance indeed... ! Got to love them though ;)

  9. Dang, you're funny. I too have had a less than warm feeling when it comes to the old lady and her son. However, I sorta get it. Sorta.