Be The Safe Space
Sometimes you get sick. Sometimes you face difficulties. Sometimes you just need your mom.
It started last night on the way home from dinner. My family goes out for pizza on Friday nights; sort of a celebration of making it through another week of work and school. As an added bonus, my mother-in-law joins us for dinner, so my son can get some Grandma time each week. It’s a win for everyone, especially since I don’t have to cook.
Last night, on the way home from the restaurant, my son started complaining that his stomach hurt. This happens from time to time with all kids, and once we got home he seemed fine as he played with Grandma until it was time for her to go home.
As the night progressed, the tummy issues returned and never really left again. He would look at me, with big sad eyes, asking me if there was anything I could do to make it better. Is there anything more heartbreaking in the world than you child asking you for help and there isn’t much you can do?
We tried all the tricks I know but as the evening progressed and nothing really helped, I had a feeling we were going to be in for a long night. And we were. I think the last of whatever was making him feel bad finally left around 3 a.m. He passed out afterwards, exhausted and needing to rest.
Throughout the evening, and into the wee hours of the morning, he needed me — and he doesn’t need me very often anymore. Snuggles and cuddles. Tummy rubs. Mostly I think he just needed to feel loved and not alone. And he wasn’t alone. These are the moments that bind a family together. Our job as parents is to instill a sense of autonomy in our children. To prepare them to step out into the world, by themselves, and become the people they are meant to be. But at the same time, we also should be the safe, soft space they can fall back into should they need to. Life can be hard. Sometimes you get sick. Sometimes you face difficulties. Sometimes you just need your mom.
I was happy to be there for him last night, chatting on the floor of the bathroom as we both waited for this to pass. It’s challenging to watch your kids grow up and need you less and less (or maybe to be fair, to just need you in different and less tangible ways), however, I was happy to know that he understands that his parents are the safe place that he can turn to when he needs some support and love. We’ll continue to watch his autonomy grow and our roles in his life change, but we will never lose sight of the fact that we are in this together — the three of us — and we will always have each other’s backs. We will gladly sacrifice a night of sleep should the other need us to be there with them. We are a family, and that will never change.
Maybe next Friday we’ll have burgers, just to be safe.
Maureen Churchill works full-time outside the home and is a mom to one wonderful little boy.