Before I became a mother, I always assumed that I would experience the proverbial cutting of the umbilical cord once my kid hit puberty. You know, when I was no longer cool enough to be seen in public with, when my son was becoming his own man, asserting his independence. I am mentally preparing myself for the kind of mother I will develop into and hope that my love for him will be reciprocated -- probably via a silent code of acknowledgment; a smile, a look, an occasional hug. Sure, I'll wait up until he comes home from a party, but pretend I wasn't waiting up for him -- Oh, I'm just watching TV. Did you have fun? And then he'll proceed to tell me how his life is going. The life I'm no longer the center of, but only an observer with front row seats (I know people. I'm connected like that).
But, when my video monitor broke a couple of days ago, I felt a pang in my chest. No, I'm not ready for this yet! Of course, it's not like the separation I'm going to adjust to in a few years, but I didn't expect to feel such panic over losing my connection to him while he's drifting into peaceful slumber. I don't know how parents did it before video monitors. I love being able to watch him sleep, surrounded by his stuffed animals, completely oblivious to the world. His arms spread out, moving from position to position in his comfy crib. The video monitor isn't so much voyeuristic as it is my umbilical cord to him when he's in his own world of dreams. I miss him when I can't hear the little patters of his feet running around the house. (Walking is not an option. He must RUN everywhere.) I'm not alone in my dependence on this device, my husband loves it too; it's his only chance to "see" him when he comes home at night. Then it serves yet another purpose in the mornings: watching K talk to his bed buddies -- Big Blue Dog, Happy Dog, Mini Dog and Mr. Bear. He babbles to them, maybe telling them about the dreams he had or just checking how they slept.
Leon Levinstein's New York photographs at the Met the other day. Each portrait more intimate than the next. But one just grabbed me and didn't let me go. It was a picture of a mother cuddling with her baby on a beach. The way she's embracing him with her long elegant arms, with undeniable love. While her baby is nuzzled up into the crook of her neck. They are both laying there, between wakefulness and sleep. That perfect state of bliss. Well, that's how I see me and K. I want us to stay like that forever, but I know we can't. He's growing up so fast and now that I don't have a video monitor, I can't watch him sleep. I'm not ready to let go yet.
When/what was your moment of realization that your baby isn't going to remain in your arms forever?