Oct 11, 2013 0 Share

When Mom Is Away


Woman in lounge chair at beach.
iStockphoto

I have learned a valuable lesson during the last few days. If I really you really want to know how well adapted your child is or isn’t then step completely out of the way and keep tabs from afar.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to get away for a couple of days. My sister had a conference she was going to where there would be lots of opportunities to play in between her meetings, and she could bring one guest.

When she called and asked me if I wanted to go with her I was ecstatic! But I had my reservations about leaving Cody and Bill to fend for themselves. Bill assured me they would be fine and I should go. And yes, I was excited and somewhat relieved. But in the back of my mind I wondered how they would do without me. Needless to say, I called often. Each time I found myself amazed at how much Cody has matured and how independent he is becoming.

While I was traveling to my destination, Bill and I talked every hour or so. There was a little part of me that expected to hear that Cody was becoming agitated or nervous. But that didn’t happen.

In many of those conversations Bill turned the phone over to Cody so he and I could chat for a few minutes. I was pleasantly surprised to hear no signs of anxiety in his voice. His tone of voice was even and his topics of conversation were about things he enjoyed doing or something fun that he and Bill were doing. I had expected to hear him ask me repeatedly when I would be home, like he used to do. He didn’t do that this time. I did tell him when I would be back at least once each time that we spoke. So perhaps that is now enough to satisfy him, which is a huge improvement from the past.

My sister and I finally arrived at our hotel around 5:00 Sunday evening. I called Bill to let him know we had made it there safely and to see how things were going at home. He informed me that Cody was doing just fine and they had already eaten, and had showered and shaved. He also informed me that Cody had taken over some of my dinner duties such as helping to clear the table when dinner was over. Cody was also very decisive and verbal about helping Bill choose what foods would be on the menu for different meals.

Around 9:00 that evening Bill called to let me know that Cody told him he was ready to go to bed. I talked to Cody so we could say our “good nights and I love yous." I was very happy to hear all about what he and Bill would be doing the next day instead of the anxious echolalia I expected. When our conversation ended Cody sounded quite content to go get settled in for a good night’s sleep.

Cody maintained this kind of easy going demeanor throughout the duration of my getaway. And when I saw him again for the first time since my departure there was no sign of the sort of aloof body language that screams, “I’m not talking to you because you went away and didn’t take me.” Instead, he was all smiles and even teased me by panting on my cheek like a puppy might do. This was such a monumental change!

I know we have been striving to help Cody become more self-sufficient. I’ve longed to see him be able to enjoy life in a lot of the ways that his neurotypical peers do. And those longings are coming to fruition more rapidly than I ever thought they would—maybe even a bit too quickly for my liking.

But could it be that I’ve kind of been in the way? Could it be that my over-protective motherly instincts have been hindering his development? Looking back, I think at least to some degree, the answer is yes.

I know a lot of parents have struggles with the idea that perhaps their kids don’t need them to do all the things they’ve been doing for them. But sooner or later they come to face-to-face with the fact that it’s time to give their children a chance to do things on their own and become their own person. And I guess that time has come for me.