The Mother Web
When Kahlilah was born, it was like a million invisible strands connected us. For a blissful six months, nothing disturbed that web. But, then, Kahlilah reached six months old and we decided to start introducing foods. Until then (and, for that matter, much after then), Kahlilah was breastfed. But, the moment I put the spoon of pureed bananas in her mouth, I felt something change. For nine months in the womb and for six months since her birth, I was her only source of sustenance. No longer. A strand connecting her to me snapped. It was bitter and sweet, bitter knowing she needed me a little less and sweet knowing that she was on her way to becoming her own independent person.
Since that day three years ago, there have been many other strands broken. Some, I know to expect…her first steps on her own, her first complete sentence, her first day at preschool. Others, I don’t know to expect but perhaps are all the more emotional because of it. One of those unexpected changes happened today. To the outsider, I’m sure, it wouldn’t seem notable.
As I was putting Kahlilah’s coat on to leave school, she whispered in my ear if I would ask another child’s parent if she could go over to their house to play. Partly because I didn’t want to be rude and basically invite my child over to someone else’s house and partly to challenge Kahlilah to speak for herself, I told her that, if she wanted to do it, she could ask. She paused for a moment and I fully expected that she’d do her typical shy retreat, hiding behind me. But, this time, it was different; she was different. She looked straight into the eyes of the other parent and asked in broken, polite words for a playdate at their house. (I didn’t even give her a prompt with what to say like I’d done in the past.) The parent was surprised but said that she’d be happy to have Kahlilah over next week. At that was it, that was the moment. Kahlilah demonstrated that she is confident enough to ask (politely!) an adult for something she wants, with no help from me. It probably would not be notable to anyone else but, for me, her mother, one other delicate, invisible strand snapped.
Yes, it was just one of thousands of other strands that still connect me to her. And I know that there will be some strands that will connect us for all our lives…or at least I hope so! But, still, it’s bittersweet and I feel it deeply. Like for a spider, what happens with even one strand reverberates across the whole web: my mother web shakes with each step Kahlilah takes towards her individuality. But, I couldn’t be prouder.