I am a bad mother, at least I feel like one. Every good mother at one time or another feels that choices she has made are the wrong ones, resulting in devastation for her children. Uprooting the family and transporting them to Vancouver, BC just before my son entered grade 5 is one of those times. Had we moved just one year earlier then things would have been easier for him. Grade 5 is that time when children start caring about friends, brand names, and fitting in. My son's fears about making new friends and not fitting in has made this glaringly clear, so much so I feel like I am a bad mother.
My 10 year old son, my precious baby, is very outgoing, extremely extroverted and makes friends easily. His personality is usually a magnet to other boys who constantly find themselves at our doorstep. It is not unusual for him to bring home a new friend he met at the park or just outside our door. It's his energy, his sense of humour, and his attitude that attract many different types of boys to orbit around him waiting for his attention. At times he gets overwhelmed and shuts the door for alone time to recharge his batteries from the drain of others demands. This is why I didn't worry about him when we decided to move.
This summer there was a change in him, he became worried about fitting in, what others thought about him, carrying about brand names and interests. He began to hide his magnetic personality behind a facade of a cool standoffish personality. He started to emulate what he thought "cool" boys are and then was upset when he didn't make new friends right away. He seemed to be uncomfortable in his own skin and unsure of every decision, every thought, and of his real "self". It was heart breaking to watch, I just wanted to grab him and crack this new shell into a million pieces so my happy go lucky boy would come back to me.
Every walk resulted in distance between us, especially if other kids were around as he retreated further into his new "cool" personality. I would watch him look at other kids, scared that he wouldn't measure up, afraid to approach them, and looking so stiff. It broke my heart, I wanted to gather him up in a hug and make it all go away, but of course that would have only made things worse for him. I felt him falling away from me building more and more walls that I couldn't get through, resulting in a lonley place for him - isolated behind what he thought would be "cool" behavior.
I broke through on one such occasion when we were hurrying into the school for a meeting and I didn't have the patience for his slow "cool" pace to put more distance between us. I was getting angry and had enough of his attitude but instead of freaking out on him I wanted to distance myself from him. I turned, looked at him and loudly stated, "on the way home we'll swing by the mother exchange center and you can get a new mom that your not embarrassed of but for now move it." He laughed, he actually laughed and caught up to me and said, "I don't want a new mommy, I love my mommy." I'm not sure why this worked but it did.
It has taken time but he's making friends at school, in activities, and at the local rec center. He still isn't the same boy who left Calgary, AB, but he's more himself lately. I can only hope that this experience will help him love his real "self" and he'll understand how wonderful he is and this "cool" attitude will be a thing of the past. I realize he is growing up and that part of the process is to grow away from me, that's the hardest part for me, watching my baby distance himself from me for the perceived benefit of other kids. God give me patience and help me to be there for him when he needs me and to give him space when he doesn't.