Being an animal lover and more specifically a cat lover, I've always had a cat or two. At one point, when I was a kid, I had 12. Now I'm content with just 3. Being around so many cats all the time, you learn a few things about them. A mama cat will fiercely protect it's young. I would have to be extremely careful as to how I approached the cats after they had their litters. Some would start purring and others would start growling, hissing, and glaring at me.
All of the cats I have now are spayed or neutered. But I still remember the thrill of watching the mama cats give birth when I was a kid. And when sometimes things would go wrong and one of the kittens died or was stillborn, the mama cat would spend a lot of time with it. Then she would realize it was no more and her cries carried grief.
But after the kittens had grown, the mama cats would start the process of emptying the nest as it were. They would spend less time with them and stop nursing. Eventually, they would start swatting at the kittens. Almost as if saying to them you are grown now, leave me alone. Oh, every once in awhile, I would spy one of mama cats grooming her grown kitten.
Why a, I thinking about this? Because I think humans go through the same process when their kids are growing up. You spend 24/7 on your kids when they are infants and toddlers. Then they start branching out on their own and you keep a sharp eye on them in their childhood years to ensure they come to no harm.
Once they hit the teenage years, they start pulling away from you and you from them. Eventually, at least in my case, when they hit a certain age (19), you become more inclined to letting them fend for themselves. In other words, my son asks the question more and more frequently, "Are you cooking supper?". He eventually stopped asking the question and started fixing his own food. See, I'm content with a spinach salad with tomatoes and feta cheese. He wants a more substantial meal. He is becoming quite the cuisine artist. I used to feel pangs of guilt about not cooking the meals that he had become accustomed to while growing up. But then I realized, my willingness to allow him to fend on his own is akin to the mama cat letting her kittens know they are able to fend for themselves.
I still cook the pot roast, the steaks, the big meals at least once a week. Far from him suffering at the lack of meals prepared by me, he is thriving. That either means my cooking has been atrocious all these years or I've taught him well how to fend for himself.
In either case, I know my son is okay and will be okay. At the end of April, he'll be flying to Indiana to stay with his girlfriend for two months. He has said he'll be looking for a job while up there and if he finds one, he'll be staying.
I have sadness about this. For one thing, I'm fearful that one thing will lead to another and I'll be a grandma. I let him know that I consider myself too "young and pretty"(it's a standing joke, I've said this to him many times over the years to let him know when I don't approve of something, it's best to use humor) to be a grandma. He just laughs at me.
I'm also fearful that he will not go to college. But I've been teaching him about budgets and he knows that in order to get a job that pays well enough, he will have to go to college.
My actions about pursuing my own interests more and more over the last few years let's me know that he is ready to be pushed out of the nest. His actions say the same thing.
At this point, all I can do is hope and pray that he remembers all the things he has been taught and that his Dad and I have given him the resources necessary to fly off on his own. He'll make his own mistakes but he knows I'll be there for him.