Recently, I read an article titled, What Does Emotional Attachment Mean by Remez Sasson and realized they were talking about me!!! The author described emotional attachment as “lack of freedom, because you tie yourself to people, possessions, habits and beliefs, and avoid change and anything new.'' I always thought that my attachment to my children was because I just love them so much and enjoy being with them.However, being mindful means acknowledging and owning my own s***. So I am. I have a strong emotional attachment to my children because some of my emotional needs were never met from my own mother.
My mother who birthed me, also birthed an addiction at some point which led to my siblings and I being relocated from North Carolina to New Jersey where we would have stability and love from my father and girlfriend at the time (now wife of many years). I was blessed to have never felt the emptiness of not having a mother in my life because my stepmother (who I have always called mom) never missed a bit. Because of that, I never realized the impact my birth mother would have on my life because I don’t have many memories to share and that part of my life seems like a blur. Now that I have my own children, I see more and more how her inability to provide a secure and healthy emotional attachment caused me to be overly attached to my own children. All of which I learned this summer when I began to embrace new things and people. Since becoming a mother almost nine years ago, I have always felt like there is no reason for my children not to be with me or their father unless we were at work, at an appointment or an occasional night out. I made sure they never felt like they were missing out so we were constantly creating new memories together.
However, I knew as they got older, they would make friends and want to have sleepovers and such but I wasn’t quite ready. Secretly, I dreaded this point because that would mean they would yearn to spend more time with their friends and less time with me. Here we are, the summer of 2019 and I am sitting in my living room in a slight depressive state because my children are next door (literally next door) playing with their favorite neighborhood friend and loving on her momma who treats them so kindly. Instead of enjoying the little break I was getting from them constantly asking for things or bickering, I was sad. I felt like I was losing my girls and I remember telling their father that “my baby was only five. It’s too soon for this”!! Why was I so damn crazy? Isn’t it possible for children to love and enjoy the company of others and it does not have anything to do with their mother? I knew that I wasn’t actually losing my girls but why did it feel like it? The article reminded me that what I felt like I lacked as a child, I tried to compensate with my own children.
My attachment was/is so strong that it is difficult for me to let go even if that just means minutes or hours without them. I was jealous of the relationships they were building because it was different. It was against our norm because we were always together. Some days I would make little comments about missing them or not spending time with them anymore but learned that wasn’t helpful because I was only unloading my feelings onto them. I never want to create experiences that my children will have to “work through” as they navigate through adulthood. My children could sense the sadness in my eyes and begin to feel guilty for allegedly causing me to feel this way. However, it wasn’t their fault at all. That was me “acting out” because I wanted their attention, similar to how they behaved when they wanted my attention also.
Although, I am still working through my feelings, I have a better understanding of why I am the way that I am. I’ve learned to breathe through these moments and continue to allow my children the opportunity to grow and flourish on their own. It turns out that owning my s*** isn’t so bad after all. It encourages opportunities for growth and healing. I’ve been reading Gratitude and Trust by Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson and it’s really been helpful in helping me identify maladaptive behaviors in order to show up as my most productive and healthy self. I recognized that something needed to change and it was probably me. Each day I am learning and growing into the person I am striving to become. Some days are easier than others but despite the obstacles thrown at me I will take deep breaths and keep on pushing. Change can be hard but in order to grow, it is necessary.
If you are looking for a new book to read and are ready to do some serious work on yourself, I highly recommend Gratitude and Trust . The authors describe six affirmations that will ultimately change your life. I couldn’t have read this book at a more appropriate time! I am so grateful that I am raising a lifelong reader who inspires me to get back to my love for reading. I remember being just like my daughter as a child and loving to read with my favorites being The Babysitter’s Club or American Girls series. As I got older, I began to read less and less until there were years in between the last time I read a book. I have learned so much about myself this summer, read more books than I have in a LONG time, given my children room to grow, embraced change and remembered that I can handle all the things that come my way! What have you learned this summer? I want to know!