“We must be able to see the courage in their convictions of self identification with things beyond us, their mothers.”

“My friends just get me more than you do, Mom” was a sentence uttered by my eleven year old son recently. My first reaction was to be offended. How could you possibly believe this group of pre-pubescent quasi strangers understand my darling baby possibly more than me? I wondered. How could he think that they know him better when I carried him in my womb, witnessed his first steps, nursed him when he was sick and wiped his ungrateful little butt countless times?

Fortunately, instead  I took a deep breath and stepped back from the abyss, smiled at him and said, “I understand.”  Because objectively, I do understand. I get that he needs to feel recognized and a part of a peer group. I understand that part of him becoming a man is this painful process of individuation where he must make such declarations of separation from me and from what was familiar. So rather than seeing it as a kind of betrayal, it is in fact a sign of bravery. It is a brave and healthy thing to step in the direction of your peers away from the nest of home.

As mothers there will be moments like these, some subtle and some more like a slap in the face, where our children must step away from us. How we react to them is key. We must be able to see the courage in their convictions of self identification with things beyond us, their mothers. In these years between childhood and the teen years, a very fragile process of self identification is happening. I am this, I am not that. Our tweens are making choices in figuring out who they are, and some of that involves declaring I am not your little baby boy anymore, Mommy. Yes he still calls me Mommy and I cherish it. I figure he will eventually revert to the cooler more irreverent ‘Mom’ label soon enough. But until then I will take every time he holds my hand and every time he still wants to call me mommy as a precious gift.

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