In a conversation with a friend some time ago it came out that she would cringe each time I would say “my children don’t need me”. Now out of context that does sound absurd, I would agree. However it got me thinking about the levels of need and how a comment can be misconstrued. This comment was made by me when talking about balancing my blogging with my family. I was talking to a mother of two small children, where as this comment was referring to my two older children, hence the difference in what that comment means to each person.
So of course I started thinking about the needs of my children and how the needs of a mother evolve.
1. Babies (0-1): This is actually my FAVORITE part of childhood. I know most parents are warned of the sleepless nights, the constant “needs” of a baby, the feeding, the diapering, the rocking, etc. At this point as a mother you are needed pretty much 24/7. If you aren’t feeding you are changing, if they aren’t content you are rocking, etc. I sometimes miss having a small little bundle to take care of and coo over.
2. Toddlers (1-4): I have to say not necessarily my favorite stage but it has it’s perks. The problem with this stage is the fight between “needing” and independence. The times when a mother wants her child to be independent and do a few things for themselves is the time when they
need want their mother. Or they want to be independent at a time when a mother wants to be needed wanted. For example a child may want to drink out of a big cup on their own, and the mother knows it is going to end up spilled all over their clothes, which means a change of clothes is going to be needed. Or a mother wants their child to walk and the child wants to be picked up. It seems to be a constant struggle as to what a mother is “needed” for at this time.
3. Children (5-7): This is the stage my daughter is at and her needs as far as physically needing me have diminished and changed tremendously. My daughter can clean her own room, make her own meals (on occasion), she likes to dress her self, and brush her own teeth. However she still needs me to help comb her hair, teach her to tie her shoes, help her spell when she wants to write a letter, or help her read. My need has become one of a teacher helping her do what she can not on a different level.
4. Older Children (8-12): Lucky me I have one of these too, not sure if it is a middle child syndrome or the age but at this age my child has become lazy. He seems to need his mother to do everything. Remind him to brush his teeth, pack his lunch for school, or help him do his homework. I believe that the thrill of independence has worn off and a small amount of “why do it myself when someone else can do it for me” has crept into his thinking. The struggle of mothers at this time is shifting some of the independence back to the child. They should know they need to brush their teeth.
5. Teens (13- ): This is as far as it goes for me as my oldest will be 14 in a couple of months. The “needs” from my teenager changed dramatically. Once he got into middle school and started coming home on his own he found his own independence and shined in the new responsibility. I’m often told that I don’t “need” to do this or “need” to do that. He is capable of doing it on his own. He remembers to brush his teeth and take a shower. He has become structured and has his own patterns. I’m needed more so now as a taxi driver or the inspiration for a last minute project for school. He makes his own breakfast and lunch and does his own homework. He entertains himself during non school hours and rarely does he seem to “need” me.
It is just a marvel when you look at how your roles as a mother change as your children grow. As for the context of my comments with my friend. I was often saying on the weekends that I am able to blog because my children “don’t need me”. The meaning of that is that my older boys usually live outside on the weekends so they don’t need me to entertain them, or take care of them, or even feed them (they tend to graze at home or at friends homes during the weekends) My daughter of course is a different story and she still needs me and my attention. I often color, do puzzles, we shop, etc. She tends to get the majority of my attention these days. The point was because of their ages my ability to blog more then she was due to my children not needing my attention at every part of their day.
Don’t get me wrong I want to say right now that every child “needs” their mother. I’m
37 29 and I still need my mother. I need her for her support, her love, her advice, and her friendship. I guess I feel comfortable saying at times that my children “don’t need me” because I know they always will and each child needs something different from me. Your children will need you for different things at different times and your job is to adapt and give them what they need to grow into loving, well mannered, adults.
So to all the mother’s out there of young children and old your child will always need you! Reveal in the role and enjoy the ever changing fun of it!