{reallife} don't apologize

Fresh news: my five year old has sprouted his wings. I saw the buds forming. He certainly has been leaning over the edge of the nest. But today, he pushed me back and flew off by himself.

It's hard for a mother to know how much to moderate situations, how much to watch for traffic, how many rules to impose. It's clear to me right now that he needs a longer leash. He needs more freedom. He needs me to trust his five-year-old self.

It seems like just yesterday he was saying "mommy, when are you going to come and play with us?" and today his words were -- "you can go now, mom".

Aaaaah. I've wished for this independence, for me to be needed less. But somehow when the words came out of his mouth, I had to grab him and hold him to me in a desperate grip of don't. grow. up. He struggled. I gave in. Go get 'em son, I said. And I walked away, leaving him with his friends and their pile of bikes on the grass.

But it left me wondering if I have taught him enough important things in the last five years.
He knows how to play in the dirt, but that I did not teach. And you may question the importance of such a thing.

Important things:
how to play with girls
road safety
when to close your eyes when your brother is making "smoke" out of trail dust
how to lean on your motorcycle without crashing
what to do when none of your friends agree on rules to a game
when to change into your swimming suit on a hot day
keeping an eye out for your three-year-old brother
how to talk to girls
what to say when your friend's mom offers you a sugary treat ;p
knowing when to stop if a friend isn't having fun anymore
      And being able to sit in the dirt and share fruit and crackers with friends. That's important too.
      Other important things:
          don't be afraid of a little water fight,
          be careful with your teeth and daddy's nose,
          someday you'll have to learn how to care for those curls,
          and you can always find a reason to get out the solar panel.
      Our little one-night-away trip was supposed to be really tranquil and refreshing. Up in the mountains where I anticipated cooler temps, by a quiet stream where I planned to lean back against a smooth stone and read my book, beside the lake at sunset. Real placid.

      A vacation totally geared toward my introverted tendencies.
      And so, I have learned something. Mama doesn't usually get what she wants. Is it a season? There's really something to the theory of mama being happy = happiness for all. I know there is.

      But I've also gotta keep their happiness in mind
      . Oh, the sand and the rocks and the dirt and mud and water entertained them for awhile. Yes, it did. And they happily built rock filters and other such really cool nerdy structures. But they missed their friends. And we saw just a tad too much of each other without breaks.

      Our next trip is going to include more social time for my boys and hopefully a couple of quiet breaks, alone, for me. This makes road trips harder when there isn't naptime and they go to bed five minutes before mom. Their extroverted needs and my introverted needs go unmet. And we bang our heads together. It's really quite unpleasant.

      Tell me we aren't the only family that struggles with this? People in the family with such different needs?

      I used to {okay, still do} apologize all over myself for my needs.
      "I'm sorry I don't have the energy to socialize right now!"
      "I'm sorry I don't want to do that...I just feel overwhelmed."
      "I'm sorry I'm like this!"
      "I'm sorry I'm me."

      That's not OK. I don't need to apologize for who I am. I'm a creative, thoughtful, perceptive, unique, talented, quiet, valuable person. My energy is drained by large gatherings of people where I am expected to converse -- a lot, with many individuals. I gather energy from music, art, color, fabric, words, quiet, nature. I am OK.

      And then I have to come full circle and recognize the needs of my husband and kids.

      My husband is energized by time spent with friends.
      My sons tend to be much better behaved and happier when their social needs are met.

      I seem to be the minority here.

      And that's where we sit tonight. Mama working hard to make sure the boys get their time with friends and then taking those last minutes of the day, in darkness, by herself.

      Thinking about Mr. Independent, who later this evening came to sit on my lap and cuddle with me. His wings need a rest too. 

      He doesn't need to apologize for needing to test his wings. I don't need to apologize for finding time to re-energize, alone.

      Life is such a snowflake dance of uniqueness, everyone their own special design of amazing. Don't apologize for who you are. Recognize. And just be yourself. That's important.