Wherein Bowie grows 4 years in 2 weeks and other thoughts on letting go

September 12, 2014 Candace Morris 0 Comments

As with most families this time of year, as with most trees, and as with most accessories, we are in transition.  Our wonderful FT nanny has moved on and we've placed Bowie into a great Spanish immersion school a few miles from our home.

I don't know if you know this about me, but I have a tendency to imagine the worst.  However, I recently realized that this isn't just me!  Apparently the human species is hard-wired to anticipate threats.  It's left-over vigilance from a time where predators ruled our existence and staying alive depended upon staying alert, wary, sharp, and careful.

My therapist brought this up in counter-argument to my dubious reaction to the power of positive thinking.  I see it working for many people, but I assumed that in order to feel positive, one must entirely ignore the negative.   Otherwise, it would be self-deceit, and that is one thing I cannot abide.

But what if the focus on positive thinking could simply be an effort to balance the scales between our evolutionary tendency to see the worst and a practiced skill at finding goodness?

As the first day of school approached, and my dread increased, I determined to think well of it.  And this is the kicker:

If I have the power to imagine the worst
I also have the power to imagine the best.

Instead of playing reruns of Bowie weeping as I walk out the door, what if I played reruns of her happily painting pictures, engaging with her teacher and sleeping peacefully during nap time?

It turns out I didn't need to worry.  That entire first week, I said goodbye happily (as they take their emotional cues from us) and she waved saying, "Mamma go to work."  No tears, no problems.

Well, other than the crazy person that has replaced my child. Preschool has aged her overnight.  More complete sentences, more surprising emotions, worse sleep (where I hear her yelling, "It's BOWIE'S!" for over an hour), and crazy mood swings.  She's transitioning into a new version of herself, and that's so scary for me.

Because I like my baby.  My sweet, observant, independent, intelligent, easy-going, compliant, quiet baby.

This replacement model scares me because, and here's the god-awful truth:
I'm afraid I won't like her.

Then I realized that being a Mom is all about embracing every personality change your child encounters.  They will be deeply influenced by their peers and environment, and I am there to guide her through her own self-making.  It will restrict her sense of self-determination and awareness if I am attached to an old version of Bowie.

But how do I do it? I have a hard enough time not grabbing on for dear life to older versions of MYself.  But the way to self-evolution is through the proper mourning of what was.  Just allow the grief.

Allow myself to be sad at loosing my baby.  Just feel it and feel it big.  She's watching how I handle grief, so maybe I could do it for her.

But the second week of school.  Oh weary heart.  Every single day she's been upset.  Yesterday and today, she had to be pried off my legs and I had to leave with the image of Bowie reaching for me, mouth agape with cry so big it couldn't be released yet, and the feeling of my heart choking me.

Bowie at school this week. I picked her up and she didn't want to leave.

Yesterday, it ruined my entire morning.  Though I tried hard to visualize her having a great time, the image of her in grief affected me for hours.  I was more prepared for it today, but it was even worse.  I stood outside the classroom for the longest 5 min of my life (determined to have a new image to stew on for the morning, an image of her happily schooling).  As she wined down, I left.

Then I lost it.  Like royally, surprising my own self. As I took deep breaths and tried to calm myself, I realized that I was in grief too. Perhaps, just like Bowie, I needed to let it out.  I needed to not be pawed at or distracted.  I just needed to feel it.

So I cried the whole way home, I cried when I saw Joel, I cried when I made myself a cinnamon roll, I cried when I sat down to my computer.  I let the tears be grief instead of letting them spin into fears of Bowie feeling abandoned or alone.

Then I read this.
(Parents: the single-most helpful blog I've read about parenting toddlers.)

"When the children in our care are grieving a loss, our job is to facilitate that loss and simply let them grieve. Infants demonstrate the authentic expression of their feelings when given the opportunity. If we can give them the space and time to express painful feelings instead of arresting their cries, and if we can steady ourselves to work through our own discomfort, then our children can be reassured that their true responses are accepted and appropriate. Children thus can continue to experience loss naturally, learn to deal with loss capably, and know that loss is survivable."

Bowie is just learning about life.  Learning to let go, and that it's safe to do so. This lesson will hopefully give her the emotional skills to let go later in life, even and especially when it's not safe to do it.  When it's scary, when it's risky.

Like the letting go she'll experience should she have to drop off her 2-year old at preschool.

Steady girl.


You Might Also Like