We nourish our babies when they are the size of poppy seeds, growing inside of us. Then, once they weigh close to a mini-watermelon, we bring them into the world; greeting them with our comforting smell, loving touch, and their favorite sound – the same soothing voice that they heard deep inside the womb.
From that point on, the days and nights blend together in a mix of moments: Messy diaper changes, on-demand feedings, interrupted sleep to rock and cradle, and burping … lots and lots of burping. Soon the days and nights turn into weeks and years, and you find yourself witnessing so many firsts: Smiles, giggles, army crawls, steps, baby teeth, solids, colds, and boo-boos.
But it’s not long before those baby teeth fall out, and the boo-boos become stitches; the steps turn into soccer kicks, and the only slight crawl you can make out is the one where your young teen is slowly moving towards his or her independence.
It is this transition — when you watch your child inching towards adulthood and know you are powerless to stop it — that actress and director Katie Holmes describes in a recent interview with Town & Country. The mom to 10-year-old daughter, Suri, she shares:
“Every day, kids get a little further away from you. That’s a positive thing. They should be becoming more independent, but it’s heartbreaking. You want them to stay with you forever, but they’re these amazing beings, and you have to do everything you can to give them what they need — and then they’re going to go. And that’s going to be very, very sad for me.”
These days, Katie is all about putting Suri first. So much so, Katie is even contemplating shifting her focus from acting to directing. Like so many of us, she wants to be more present and savor the remaining years of Suri’s childhood, who she welcomed into the world in 2006 with ex-husband, Tom Cruise. All working parents face the challenge of attaining the work-life balance that best fits the needs of their family, and Katie is no different. This is a balance that changes as children grow and priorities shift.
“The thing about directing,” Katie explains, “Is I can say I have this window and that’s when we’re getting it done. My child is the most important person to me, and her upbringing is paramount to my work right now.”
After undergoing a very public divorce in 2012, Katie is very protective of her daughter. Her goal is to provide Suri with the most stable and innocent life. In fact, when it comes to tabloid coverage (and having her family in the spotlight), Katie insists that in her household they know that “what they print isn’t true, so [they] don’t pay attention.”
Katie is currently reprising her role as Jackie Kennedy for the upcoming miniseries, The Kennedys: After Camelot. This original four-hour miniseries is based on the New York Times bestseller, and portrays the former first lady’s life after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Interestingly enough, the role of mother Jackie O. mirrors Katie’s own — a high-profile single mother raising her children in the public eye.
The actress tells Town & Country that while she feels “so blessed to do what I do … there’s nothing better in the world than watching your child succeed.”
Our role as parents is to prepare our children the best we can to let them go. It’s bittersweet, but it’s the way of life. Just like the mother bird, we watch over our nest and make sure our children are safe and loved. We make sure they are fed — physically, mentally, emotionally — and give them room to spread their wings. Our children, like a mother bird’s chicks, are destined to fly away from the moment they are born.
But, if we do it right — if we make a point to relish in their early days, and appreciate the process (just like Katie is doing), it will feel as natural as it was meant to. We will not have missed out on our precious time with them.
And, no matter what, they will come back.