Me: "Hi Buddy! So how was your day? Can you tell me about this project you made in camp today? Did you roll the papers yourself?"
Thanan, with attitude: "I'm INDEPENDENT Mom. It's a moon house. It wasn't an experiment today, we just had to build stuff."
Me: "You know, I was just asking to make conversation so you'd know I was interested in what you did today. You don't need to respond with such attitude, that's not at all called for. Think about that."
Thanan: "Oh, I didn't realize, Mom. I thought you were saying I was dependent on someone else to roll the paper."
Me: "I think you mean "sorry, I didn't realize, Mom"... No, I was just making conversation, Thanan. I'm going to bbq chicken for supper... " My voice trails off, I'm facing forward, lip trembling, a tear rolls down my cheek as I drive us home.
The thing is, I've made sure to devote my life to Thanan. I've always put aside my own wants and desires to make sure that he has what he needs and is provided with the most nurturing upbringing possible. Up till recently, it's all been going really well. But I've dubbed this the "summer of change" because since about early summer, everything's slowly morphing into this realm where I'm less and less necessary. I get it, kids grow up and become independent. I can't stop it, nor would I want to. But I'm not sure how to cope with it.
In a regular family setting, I think as a child grows and becomes less dependent, the father and mother lean on each other more to adjust to the changes and celebrate the new found time they have together. But for me, here... I don't have that... yet. Instead, I just have a void that I'm not able to fill up with anyone else here. I don't have my Thor here all the time to do stuff with, to occupy my new time and space as Thanan disappears more and more. I just have emptiness. And I have to honestly say, I'm not sure I'm equipped to handle that. I mean, I know I will... I've always been so strong before. This won't kill me... but it's really a struggle and challenge, and the scary part is it's only beginning.
He wants to go be with friends instead of hanging out with me. He wants more privacy, spends more time in his room with the door closed. He's making his own bagel, toast, bowl of cereal. He's leaving the house without me to play with friends at the playground or at their house. He's walking home from school. But the most impactful thing is the overly evident pulling back of togetherness.. the dive into his independence and how it's leaving me wondering about my true life's work and what I'm supposed to be doing with my empty space and time now.. without him, without Thor here.
Anyway, I'm trying to go with the flow, but often it stops me in my tracks and I just have a flow of tears instead. Like today in the car on the way home. And like now as I write this post.
I wish I could take solace in knowing I'm only 1 of billions of parents going through the same exact emotional state. It's funny how there are so many people experiencing this but I still feel alone in it.
At some point, this will become the new normal, I guess. I don't love that, but I have to accept it because I don't want to be the parent who suffocates their child and maintains too much control over what they do as they age. I have to adapt. It's just ridiculously hard.