Moms believe that the umbilical cord is cut when they give birth, but this is just an illusion. When the doctor held up my son’s cord, which had been wrapped around his neck twice and tied in a true knot, I said, “Thank God we are done with that!” He is my fourth child, yet so little did I really know.
I did not register my children for pre-school or hire babysitters. I officially became The Master of Ceremonies for the Greatest Show in the Stiles’ Home 24/7. Yes, our house was a Three-Ring-Circus. Each performer had an act of their own to follow. One was kicking a soccer ball all around the field, another was playing shortstop in baseball, and The Princess was celebrating St. Patrick’s Day year round with her Irish Dance Class. Showtime for each was every two hours on the hour. Kids kept climbing out of the clown car while I drove around and announced activities. Their reliance on me was strengthening.
It seems that even though my husband and I were encouraging our kids to be more independent by engaging in a variety of interests, we were also responsible for towing the line. Then, when the school act was finished in one ring there was a new routine to follow—college. The loud voices that excitedly cheered on teams have turned into demanding texts for help. They automatically come at all hours of the day and night, with minimal thought given to considering an alternative solution on their own.
I often announce to the crowds that it was so much easier when my children were little. The typical response is, Oh, really! I think back to a grandmother I met in the Shop Rite while pushing my three-month-old son. She told me to enjoy him now. I said to myself, “Lady, you have no idea. All he does is cry and scream. He is not fun!” It was even harder for me because I am an only child, and was clueless about raising children. Now, however, I get it. The older they get the more attention they require.
One needs Dad to do research for ordering books, another wants Dad to pick out classes for the next semester, someone else wants to work but not at this time or that job, and even though they grew up in a small house with five siblings, apparently getting along with roommates is a reoccurring issue. Yes, Mom, and now, Dad, are still on call all week long for a multitude of wants and needs. We have graduated from the verbal please tie my shoes to the electronic can you do this or that. Yet, as parents, we still find ourselves jumping through hoops for them to accomplish a goal. We are roped into performing a balancing act between the kids at home and the kids away.
Obviously, the tug-of-war in this performance seems to be with dependence versus independence. However, I believe the more time we spend with our children will payoff with the confidence to go it alone in the end. I thankfully applaud the give and take relationship between my kids and us because it is comfortable enough to reach out and touch each other no matter what. I never tire of hearing Mommy or Daddy from my teenagers or young adults, unless they are asking for money! Then we are walking the tightrope!
The cord will never go away because it has been there from the beginning to bind a parent to a child. Under this Big Top we will always be juggling with our children, because while I naively thought the ties that bind were gone at birth now I know they just became invisible. So, as long as I get an intermission from being pregnant to stay connected I’m good! Parenting is truly the Greatest Show on Earth.