Elsie’s new favorite phrase is now, “I don’t need you any more.”
The first time I heard it was when I dropped her off on her first day of preschool on Monday.
Now I hear it all the time.
When putting on her swimsuit for lessons, “I don’t need you Mom.”
When climbing up the ladder at the playground, “I don’t need you any more Mom.”
When opening a pre-packaged snack, “I DON’T NEED YOU!”
At first this straight forward statement stung. You don’t need me any more? What good am I if my baby doesn’t need me? What am I suppose to do now that my youngest doesn’t need me any more? Get a job?!
The sadness was replaced with resentment. You don’t need me? Fine. Spread the peanut butter on your sandwich yourself. Brat. Even when she did ask for help, I replied in a snarky way that my parents probably remember quite vividly from when I was a pre-teen (lets be honest- well into my college years) “I thought you could do it all by yourself. I though you didn’t need me anymore!”
Now after working through my slightly adapted, and condensed version of the 5 stages of grief, I am able to take pride in her statement. She doesn’t need me any more. In the past few months she has grown from the clingy and dependent Mama’s girl into an independent, strong-willed, take-crap-from-no-one big girl.
Yes, she wants to be a princess ballerina and wear a crown and tutu everyday, but dammit, she is one badass princess ballerina. She holds her own when wrestling with her brothers. She walks into a room with her head held high and her big blue eyes alert as she scans the crowd for her next potential friend. She may wear a tutu more days than not, but she knows more Star Wars characters than I ever will and does a pretty accurate Minecraft Creeper impression… SSSSsssss BOOM!
I am proud of you Elise, but I think I may be even more proud of your Daddy and I. We are raising a strong beautiful little girl. Your brothers are smart and kind. Tim and I are proud of this. We are going to savour this moment for as long as it lasts because all too often as parents the only time you can really step up and say, “that’s my kid” is when your kid is causing trouble and you have to claim them, drag them from the situation and punish them. So much of parenting is being the bad guy.
I stay awake at night worrying that we are doing this whole parenting thing completely wrong and that, God forbid, I have wasted another day trying to catch up on laundry or cooking dinner and paying bills that I didn’t do enough to shape and mold all the grey matter between their ears in a way that allows them to grow to be a decent human being.
Because in the end, that is what we are shooting for. Our end goal as parents is to raise decent human beings.
Parenting is tough work. It has taken 7 years and three kids to learn that if you don’t relish in the victories (no matter how small), you will not make it out alive. This week as you, my Big Girl Elise, start a new chapter in your life, as you start school and as you decide you don’t need me anymore, I am taking the time to savour the moment.
Tim, we did it. We made it. All three kids are in school.