Can We Be Too Present?

As mothers we are always wondering if we are present enough in our children’s lives. Lately, I have actually pondered if it’s possible to be too present???

As a stay-at-home mother (who works from home), I take my “job” very seriously and put 110% into parenting my children (and my husband).  I make sure I am involved in their school and know their teachers well, drop them off and pick them up every day, know who their friends are, invest the time to tailor my parenting skills based on my children’s different personalities, serve home cooked healthy meals, make sure they have their favorite pair of socks washed and ready to wear for school, and 100 other tasks that I love doing for them as their mom.  This is not to say a mother who works outside the home can’t also complete these tasks.  Being “home” (I hate that term because stay-at-home moms actually do leave the house) just allows me to dedicate more of my time to their needs.

My children are my life (although I would like to think I have my own as well), and when I am with them, I feel complete.  I love spending time with then, watching them laugh, being able to make them smile, and being the mother to them that I always envisioned I would be.  They are such great kids and I genuinely enjoy spending time with them.  I am very blessed to be able to be so present in their lives as they are truly my best friends!  As my children get older though, it definitely feels like my presence may be a bit too much or at times even unwanted.  It’s a hard adjustment dealing with fewer kisses and hugs as the years go by.  At drop off, they want to hang out with their friends and I barely get a wave goodbye.  I realize now that these hugs, kisses, the “I love you’s”, and “have a nice day’s”, are as much for me as I thought it was for them.

If you have seen the hilarious show, The Goldbergs, on television, the mother character is constantly trying to find ways to get her kids to show her love and give them what she calls, “snuggies”.  She even tricked her youngest son into believing the popular 80’s movie “Poltergeist” was real, so he would need to be comforted and have to sleep next to his mom.  My husband looked at me the first time we watched it and said, “You are so the Goldberg mom”!  I couldn’t deny it…it was true!  What can I say? There are so many children in this world who need and crave a hug and a kiss from their parents, so I will not apologize to my own children for trying to express my love for them!  Okay, it could be possible that I show my affection a little too much but I am so in love with my kids, I simply cannot help it.  I am a very loving and emotional person and I want my kids to know every second of the day how much they are loved and what they mean to me.  Can we say overbearing?  I guess we can.  I never want to be that mom that embarrasses her child at school but it may be a little late for that.

Boy with stop sign

Maybe it’s true when they say absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Perhaps if I backed away, they would wonder why and come running for my affection?  Easier said than done.  How do I back away when all I want to do is be near?  When I recently told my son I was coming to his field trip, instead of “YAY” I got “Oh”.  It definitely hurt but he is probably so used to me always being there that it wasn’t exciting or unexpected news.  I know plenty of working moms that would love to have more time to be present in their child’s lives.  On a side note, I also know plenty of moms who come Monday, can’t wait to get to the office!

I am slowly learning to let go, at least in public with my seven year old. (Thank g-d I still have my two year old and my affectionate five year old to keep my hug and kiss addiction alive.)  I will say that so far, my seven year old has not cancelled our nightly cuddle-time sessions, and still comes running to me when he hurts himself or if he is sad.  He can’t wait to tell me about his great day at school and ask me those awesome questions that a seven year old ponders. When we are home, I am told I am the best mom and the best cook, so I know deep down he appreciates me.  I am happy to report I woke up with him snuggled next to me in my bed this morning and he was so warm and delicious!  As I rolled over with a smile to exit my bed, that smile got even bigger because my five year old was snoring away next to me on the right.  It doesn’t get any better than that!  Hey, at least I didn’t have to scare anyone into sleeping next to me, right?

When my boys are grown and perhaps have children of their own, I want them to remember that their mom was always there for them and truly cherished our time together.  I want to teach them how to be loving and present parents who really take the time to get to know their children.  I know my constant presence might (or possibly definitely) be annoying and embarrassing at times but I know my kids will look back, appreciate my efforts and dedication, and know how loved and important they were to me.

Every Sunday at skateboard lessons, my seven year old always tries to challenge himself by attempting a higher ramp or a new trick.  This past Sunday he said to me nervously, “Mom, promise you will be there to catch me if I fall”?  I looked at him and said, “Promise.  I will always be there”.  Enough said!

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Update:  Since I have written this article, I have made an attempt to let go.  I will let you know how it turns out!

Grandparents Day is coming up at school.  Unfortunately, none of the boy’s grandparents are able to attend, and like last year, I am again ready to step in, since parents and grand-friends are welcome.  The other option I have is  to not send them to school that day, which the teacher said was perfectly okay.  I have been informed that my seven year old still wants to go, but without me…or my husband present.  My initial reaction was that he would be sad when he saw his classmates with a grandparent/parent there.  I told him I would be more than happy to join him but it sounds like he prefers to go solo.  Knowing my son will be performing songs with his school in front of all the guests without me there to witness it, is a concept that is tearing me up.  The only thing actually keeping me a tad sane is the fact that my aunt will be there (we have cousins at the school) visiting her granddaughter and will be stopping by my son’s classroom to say hello and spend some time with him.  My son told me he can see I am sad and that he would never want to make me feel that way on purpose.  It was at this moment that I knew it was time to let go.  I told him I trust his wishes, know he will have a great time with his friends and will have a wonderful celebration at school on Friday. Now I just have to convince myself I am doing the right thing!