It’s a sweet-sounding statement, I know, but the reality is that it is also overwhelming. Although she is the opposite of a wallflower when out in the world and away from me, if given the option, she’d like to be physically attached to me 24-7. She pushes her little sister out of the way to get the first hug every time I come in the door. She kisses me with more force than is comfortable. I have spent two years of preschool and a year of kindergarten peeling her off my body each day to get her into the door.
“Oh, that’s so nice,” another mom said to me, smiling kindly, after one of these intense drop-off sessions in the hallway. “Enjoy it while it lasts.” And I do try, but here’s my confession: sometimes I don’t enjoy it at all.
Don’t get me wrong, of course her passion is part of what I love about her. But sometimes it drives me crazy. If you’ve ever had one of those borderline-desperate teenage boyfriends who hangs around more than he should, you know that being loved so intensely can be both flattering and suffocating. The difference with kids, of course, is that breaking up is not an option. You can’t give them the “It’s not you, it’s me” speech or tell them to take a hike. Instead, you must learn to navigate the tidal wave of emotion they send your way, to weather the weight of that constant need, without crushing their spirit in the process.
Would I have chosen to have such a passionate kid? I’m not sure. But that’s what I got. Someday, I know, this six-year-old of mine will be fourteen and her fervor for me will wane. In fact, she may refuse to let me near her. That concept is hard to fathom. Will she honestly not be underfoot every time I turn around? Not want to lay on top of me when we watch a movie? Not care if she gets the first hug any more, or whether I’m the one who picks her up after school today?
You more experienced parents know the answer, and in my heart, so do I.
So what do I do? I try to remember that during these very early years, I’m helping her become who she’s meant to be, and that her ardent nature helps define her. I try to think of what exciting things she might do in the world, once her passion is not so tightly tied to me. I do my best to be generous with this person who loves me madly and unconditionally, offering her my affection, my reassurance, and those constant hugs and kisses, even when I’m not totally in the mood to give them. Because I know there are times when I need all of that from her, too…and in those moments, I should be thankful I’ve got–for now–an unlimited supply.