This kid spent the weekend at his friend's house.
Not just a night. Two nights. Two evenings. Two days.
Gosh, I missed him.
Not initially, he has overnights pretty frequently, so I'm used to one night away. But once that time period passed, my maternal alarm clock started blaring, "He should be home by now! Where is he?!" and it made me CRAZY.
He had a blast, swimming (you should see the sunburn), video games, toys, friends, movies, baseball, restaurants, and church. The first thing he said after returning home was, "Next time? This summer? I'm staying for THREE nights!"
No, "Oh Mom, I missed you!"
No, "I'm so glad to be home."
Nope. Nada. Just the promise that he is so outta here this summer.
And surprisingly, I wasn't stung by his lack of reciprocation. I just held him down and tickled and kissed him until I felt he had paid his penance for not missing us more. I continued to ask him "But BubTar...didn't you miiiiiiiiiss meeeeee?" throughout the evening, just to see him giggle and shake his head no. I know he was thinking "My mom is CRA-ZEE!" But it sure was fun to tease him.
Somewhere between tickles and teases, I realized something, this is the warm up. The tiny little bits we let go here and there, letting our children stretch their wings and learn how to be without us, letting them create their own worlds, choosing what they'll do, who they'll befriend, how they will behave. It is practice for both of us, warm up for the big stuff down the line. Overnights turn into weekends away that turn into weeks at camp that turn into leaving for college that turn into living on their own that turn into marriage, perhaps. We slowly give away our ownership of these little people, handing them the reins, just a bit at a time to let them feel what it is like to be in control, to be the one steering, so that when they finally do ride off into the sunset, it is second nature to wave a fond farewell, knowing they are prepared for what lies ahead.
At bedtime, despite protests that he SURELY did not miss me, he begged me for a little extra reading and a little extra cuddling, and I readily complied. As I snuggled up next to my baby turned big kid, I thought, some day I'll have to watch him ride away, but I sure am glad it isn't today.