When I got pregnant, what I never anticipated happening is that I would view my child as an extension of me. That I would have trouble differentiating between who she is as an individual and who I am as an individual. That I would be so conflicted over the fact that our identities are separate. That they are not blurred in some cosmic way -- the way they once were when I created her within my body. I remember when I gave birth to her... I was so happy to have my body back to myself. But the physical connection to her remained and still remains to an extent.
I am a fan of attachment parenting, and I was lucky to have an attached baby. I loved wearing her everywhere, probably far longer than I should have. I enjoyed skin-to-skin contact when she was teeny tiny, and I desperately miss those times. But, somewhere along the way, her body grew too big for the Bjorn. And though my mind understands that these things happen, my heart has trouble accepting it.
The baby is now a young girl who sings and dances. Who debates with me about reality. Who loves wooden puzzles. Who can actually beat her father and me at Uno. Who doesn't need a pull-up anymore, even at night. Who not only has teeth, but has chipped teeth from crunching too much ice. Who questions this whole Santa thing already. "He comes in while I'm sleeping?" she asked recently. "That's weird."
The old saying, "Mom needs to cut the cord," rings true. I see it when I notice that my attachments to Jane wig her out. I assume she still needs me to sit next to her bed at night, but recently she has started to look at me and Daddy and say, "It's okay for you to go." When I catch myself gazing at her longingly, I snap back to reality when she crinkles her brow and asks, "What, Mommy?" And, of course, the traditional toddler arguments over what to wear and what to play persist in my home and reinforce the idea that Jane is her own person now. And I have to let her be her own person. I have to let go and let her be her own person.
I think a lot of it has to do with trust. I don't trust her to be her own person yet. I still assume she needs me to make decisions about how many bites of food to eat or how many more green Legos she needs for her tower. I don't have to intervene in every one of Jane's decisions, and it's something I'm just now trying to accept. Trying... not achieving. Not yet. Because letting go is an incredibly scary and difficult thing to do. But, I have to try because the thing I want the most in this world is a good relationship with my daughter. And to have that I have to trust her to grow into herself without my dictating her every move.
So my Christmas wish for this next year is to accept the end of babyhood and try to let go. Try to let this little human being have a bit of autonomy. Believe me, it will not come naturally. But it has to come. Because she is not just an extension of me.