Guest post by Lora of An Atypical Mom
I swear I can vividly remember the doctor, both times, cutting the cord, the lifeline between me and my newborns. I do remember my husband afraid to do the task in both cases. Maybe it’s his fault…maybe a parent was supposed to do it for it to ‘take’. They are older now and I am having some personal issues with knowing when to say when for some basic childhood independence.
Let me clarify, I do not have twins, these cord cuttings presumably happened about 3 years apart, approximately 12 1/2 and 9 1/2 years ago. I had The Girl first and The Boy second and things had been going pretty smoothly. Now a few years ago we had some bumpy moments when Girl became quite ill with a rare neurological condition that caused some serious issues like epilepsy and some cognitive issues. So, it’s not like my crazy over-protectiveness is unwarranted, but as things have calmed down a bit medically…I had hoped to create some normalcy by maybe allowing the kids to have some time home alone, but have found it hard to let go.
Girl is not quite up to the level of maturity and independence of her peers, but getting there. We have recently found control for seizures and it’s been almost 6 months of calm, so that’s one less thing to worry about. For the last 4 1/2 years since onset of her illness, she has not been out of our care or the care of close relatives or friends, with the exception of a school whose staff knew her whole story. It’s a nice, cozy cocoon, seemingly safe, but it’s also restricting to her and us. She is wanting to spread her wings and I hate that I feel I am holding that back.
This is the first year I have gone back to my old job on a regular schedule since Girl got sick. During the school year, I worked the day shift, but over the summer I arranged to be scheduled late afternoon into early evening. That left about a 2 hour block of time between my being at work and my husband coming home. I had some grandiose plans of the kids staying home for that period (also making it a little smaller period of time if I went in a bit late). As the summer edged closer, I decided I was not ready for them to be alone for that amount of time. We had done 15 minutes here, half hour there…but still, something wouldn’t let me feel comfortable with them alone for an hour. Maybe it’s that they are typical kids in the fact that they argue and bicker one minute, then are manically silly, running around the house the next. Perhaps it has something to due with the also typical behavior we have named the ‘wolverine factor’. This is where the kids attack the kitchen cabinets and fridge like a pack of wild wolverines and eat anything they know I would say “NO” to if they had actually asked permission.
My solution? Well, I thought…why not have the kids go to their Grandma’s (my MIL) for a few hours. Even though she is 85 and does nothing except think of things for my husband to do for her..I thought ‘perfect’. The kids are basically on their own, because she really doesn’t engage them at all. (She’s pretty frail and even though she lives alone, she doesn’t do much for herself) It’s almost like the kids were watching Grandma. Is that so bad?
The answer is YES!! It’s the worst idea I’ve had in years!!
Yesterday I dropped the kids off and my husband called me after he got there. He found The Girl in the bathroom crying because Grandma had fallen on the porch, getting her mail and Girl wanted to call my husband…BUT… dear, sweet old grandma yelled at her not to. Here I am trying to teach responsibility. “If you have a problem, here’s my phone number.” or “Accidents happen, call for help and guidance.” Or just listen to this old bitch yelling at a 12 yr old not to call for help. Make the 9 year old help your ass up off the porch then tell your son, ‘oh sorry I shouldn’t have done that’. God, I could just scream!! I am so angry that my kids had to deal with that. I thought I was helping them. (I guess I did something right, that they wanted to call for help.) But, now what? Besides the obvious choice of them never being alone with that grandma…Have I ruined them? I mean, I know eventually, they will be left alone, but I feel guilty when maybe it’s not even my guilt to own.
I suppose in the big picture, it’s not the end of the world. I would have preferred my children not seeing that side of reality at their age, but I guess we move on. My MIL is a bitter, selfish woman, but I naively thought it wouldn’t be apparent to my relatively young kids. I feel horrible that they had to witness and be exposed to that.
And besides that, she set my big “independence” crusade back quite a bit!! Am I ever going to feel OK letting them be alone??
Guest post by Lora of An Atypical Mom