Tonight a friend sent me a link to a blog entry written by a friend of hers. It was an entry about her son and his renewed separation anxiety after having missed a week of preschool while they were both sick. This mom wondered if she'd done wrong by her son (as the teacher pried him off her leg) by sending him to school too early. She felt pangs of guilt about her son not having enough time with her because every night he begged her to sit and cuddle with him a minute longer.
One line she wrote really stuck with me: "I know these days are fleeting, but isn't the holding on as important as the letting go?"
That question really gave me pause. Piglet is reaching the age now where many of his peers are being introduced to BIG new things.
Many of my friends are making plans to send their little ones to school next fall when they're all around 2.5. This is awesome and I'm happy for them that this will be a good experience for their children. I'm not 100% sure yet, but I do not think Piglet will be among those heading to preschool next fall. I know I'll get some flack for this and on more than one occasion I've already been accused of being over protective or not making Piglet experience new situations or forcing him outside of him comfort zone because "it'll be good for him." I just know my Piglet and I know that he's the kid that might need more time before that kind of transition. And to be honest, he has a LIFETIME of school ahead of him, waiting until he's three or even 3.5 is not the end of the world in my eyes.
I received all kinds of unwelcome criticism and advice about not letting him cry it out in his crib. Even when he cried so hard he'd throw up (every time), I was met with a lot of head shaking and "he'll never learn to fall asleep on his own if you always give in" talk. I don't judge people who can Ferberize and leave their shrieking child at the gym daycare without a backwards glance. I really don't. I say, good for them for having wills of steel and a child without a strong gag reflex. Even better if they don't have to go through all that and their child is just naturally outgoing and loves new situations and environments.
Piglet however, is not one of these children. He craves proximity to me and to his dad. He co-slept with us for a long time. This was not what we intended to do, but just a response to his personality and ours. Then about five months ago, we moved him into his own full-sized bed in his own room and he loves sleeping there. He still loves it best when we cuddle with him, reading books and singing lullabies until he falls asleep. Sure it's not as easy as putting him in his crib with a lovey and a nightlight and closing the door and yes, there are nights that I wish he was the kind of kid that went to bed so easily, but I accept Piglet as he is. He has an innate need to be close to us and as long as he needs us, we are here for him.
Myself, I am here for him because I know that he won't be 13 and still happy to sit next to me on the couch running a choo choo train up and down my arm (and right now, my belly). He won't always walk around the house bellowing "Maaaaaaamaaaaa!" when I'm just in the next room. I do believe he's more demanding and sensitive than other kids his age, but that's just HIM. It's who he is and that deserves to be nurtured and respected.
As cliché as it sounds, this time goes by in the blink of an eye and I want to cherish it entirely. I want to fill Piglet's life with as much joy and as little discomfort as possible. Of course there are moments when I worry that I am holding him back, that I'm somehow stifling his growth by not nudging him to be more adventurous, more bold, more accepting of new things. Then I look back at all the times I let him get comfortable in his own time and how much better it felt to know that he got there by himself, without me forcing it.
I believe with my entire heart that I am being the parent to him that he needs me to be. As for the question posed by a fellow blogger? My vote goes to holding on...even if it sometimes means holding on for dear life.