Push and pull: dance steps of love

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My youngest son turned 9 in December.

He’s a big boy. His sandy brown hair tickles my chin when we hug.

I forget how young 3rd graders are, until I look at the kids in his class.

He is a forest to their tree. He towers over them and is sturdy and thick.

Still such a baby though. A Momma’s boy.

I sometimes think he’d crawl back into my womb if he could.

I pull him close, eyes shut tight.

Long gone is the sweet smell of baby, in its place…all big boy.

He wiggles restlessly in my arms, trying to break free from my heart hold.

Mission accomplished.

He presents the top of his head, letting me know I am entitled to one last kiss before he goes and does.

He’s such a big boy now, despite the fact that he depends on me for everything, even things that most 9 year olds would be mortified to have their Moms do.

I am and always have been his security blanket. When other little ones were cozying up with their favorite stuffie or blankie, he would take my left arm and wrap it around him, leaving me unable to move until his breathing evened and dreams began.

Bedtime is ours, not his alone. We read. We snuggle. We fall asleep. My arm still wrapped tightly around him.

Still small sucking noises can be heard even with the pacifier a memory.

My husband comes and wakes me, every night.

Every night, my husband asks me when I plan on cutting the cord.

It’s not that easy.

It’s not.

The constant pull is strong.

The pull to keep him close, my youngest child, my baby forever.

Then there are moments, moments that are coming closer and closer together.

Push moments mixed with pulls.

Grow up. But stay little.

Act your age. But be my baby.

Constant pulling and pushing.

A parent-child dance, steps that we all must learn.

A dance of letting go.


This summer, my husband wants my baby, my little boy, to try sleep over camp.

10 days away from him.

10 days away from me.

This dance step isn’t one I’m ready for.

I’m not certain he is either.

It probably would be the best thing for him, a separation.

Dancing solo, without Mommy.

I remember putting my daughter on that bus.

I remember her face as she stared out the window, eyes pleading with me, tears trailing.

She went for a month. Same age.

It took her a bit but she loved it and couldn’t wait to spend another summer there.

My kids laugh at me. They think I’m ridiculous. When they were his age, they say, they did everything themselves.

I’m not sure “everything” is the right word. Because they still heavily rely on us, even as teenagers.

I shrug.

I have no answer, I don’t know why this one is as hard as it is. I love them all so equally.

But this is my baby.

The last one.

I keep waiting for him to lead, that would be my sign.

He hasn’t yet.

And I guess that, just maybe, it is time.

Time for him to begin learning the dance steps for himself.

It’s time for me to start pushing more and pulling less.

The cord never breaks anyways, my dear husband. Even if you saw away at it.

It just grows longer.

And the parent-child, push-pull dance evolves.

It’s just about getting used to those new moves.

Don’t be afraid to fly, my little one.

Always know that I am here.




  1. says

    Beautiful words. You nailed it. Just wait until you watch him climb into his own car and drive away- back to college- after spending a month with him. arrrrggghhh. #tissueanyone?