Of all the things everyone around us and about the world said parenting would be, nobody bothered to inform that, surprisingly of all, it would be heartbreaking. Sometimes, these heartbreaks come as little realizations in a magnified moment of my toddler’s life, sometimes as a pat reply, sometimes in his unexpected behaviour, and most of the time in the fact, that he’s just growing up and how!
As my little infant grew into a toddler, the first heartbreak came when he would sing a rhyme which I would always sing along to, except this time, he asked me to stop. He said he didn’t want me to sing with him. In another few months, he asked me to stop singing him lullabies while putting him to sleep.
My heart cracks when we are at the airport and I spend the four hours of overlay just chasing him throughout the terminal because he wants to travel ‘alone’ and doesn’t want to be with us. My heart is racing, I am breathless, I am exhausted and astonished at his audacity to journey on his own at three, something his mother had to fight for even when she was twenty years older.
The pain simmers, deep inside the trenches of motherhood which never expected her child to become independent when he now wants to shower on his own and asks me to close the door behind me. He says all grown kids do.
The ferocity of the heartbreak hits me with full force when the neighbour’s daughter shuts the door on his face while letting another kid in, because she does not want to play with him, finding him not good enough for her company. My heart, my three-year-old little boy who absolutely adores her, stands outside the door and sobs, not understanding what wrong did he do and why wouldn’t she play with him. This happens almost every day. I have to, but I do not know how to teach him to let go of people who do not love us back.
He does eventually find new friends who embrace him for who he is, his spark returns, so does his laughter.
The pandemic is nearing its end and someone has informed us that school admissions are in progress. We get ready one morning, I wear a suit after months, put him in a formal shirt and a pullover, trying to comb his overgrown, unruly hair into the neatness a formal education expects. As we drive down to the school, him excitedly holding onto the tiny elephant backpack he has packed with random knick-knacks he thinks he would need for school – some storybooks, a cookie pack, two packets of instant popcorn and a box of sanitizing wipes, tears escape my eyes. For all the parenting challenges I have gone through because of schools not opening on time, their very reopening is breaking my heart again, harder than I can handle.
He wakes up one day and tells me that he can see hair on his hands like his father. I tell him it’s great, that means he’s growing up! He feels excited at the thought but then starts crying, “But if I grow up, how will I be your baby?”
My heart swells, “You will always be my baby!”
Would you like to share your own parenting heartbreaks?