Jeff just returned from his longest stint away from home: 3 nights. I know some families do this all the time, but I am still finding my sea legs on solo parenting when Jeff is gone. It's actually not really solo parenting, because I still discuss things with Jeff and keep him updated on all the developments, but the morning routine and the nighttime routine, well, that's been all me for 3 nights.
Could you hear Sadie's glee when Jeff walked through the door? She was so excited and yelling so loudly that I think she burst my eardrums, which is fine, because I can just start taking Simon's earache medication.
Aside: If Jeff was not bald, would his hair be this curly? I need to check out a web program that will let me put Sadie's hair on Jeff's head. You know, in all my spare time.
Anyway, we all survived the big business trip of November 2011. I only cried once and that was last night. Ok, twice, but once was for a totally, objectively, bona fide appropriate reason. First, I cried because I sometimes think Simon doesn't like me. It's a weird, mean trick my brain plays on me, but when I get especially tired or overwhelmed, I sometimes hear a voice telling me that Simon doesn't like me that much and that we are not close.
And, then I fucking hit the roof.
It's so upsetting and I can't exactly explain why I can't brush the thoughts aside. I tried. They wouldn't budge; they had taken root in my brain and flourished into full-blown shade trees that barely swayed when I tried to get rid of them. Part of it is that Simon is such a smiley, laid back baby, the likes of which I have never known. He smiles at me, he smiles at the lady in the elevator on the way to the pediatrician, he smiles at Sadie. I kept hearing for months that little boys love their mamas like no one else in the world. So far, Simon has lots of love for pretty much everyone. There is nothing I can see that is special about me. Can you imagine that a grown woman is chasing her infant son around trying to light a spark between us based on my random fantasy about what it "should" feel like to have a baby son?
If you can't imagine it, let me just inform you that it's painful. In addition to feeling like I have done something wrong or that I haven't been available enough to Simon so that he could adore me like "all other sons" adore their mothers, I also feel heaps of shame about the whole subject. Who does this? Who obsesses that her son doesn't love her? Is the subtext of this some implicit criticism of Simon for not taking care of my feelings or fixing my need to have him demonstrate his attachment in some way? Am I so determined to find something deeply and irrevocably wrong with my mothering that I have to invent something that is at once totally pedestrian and also totally devastating-- this "problem" that Simon doesn't adore me?
So, yes, there were tears last night when I finally opened my mouth and told my friend Trish all about my fears about my relationship with Simon. Actually, I started crying in the living room in front of both of the children: Sadie came running over to me and cried a little herself because she's a sympathetic crier like that; Simon looked over his shoulder at me, flashed his $1 million smile and went on playing with the blocks he was engrossed in.
And there it is. They are so different. Sadie and Simon are so fucking different. I can't think of two more different people. I haven't really heard anyone talk about this subject, which I would define as "reconciling the different personalities that your children have and embracing all possibilities therein." I guess I got used to Sadie's ways and memorized them and decided that "her" way was how it was: Babies cry when their mothers leave the room. I thought this because that's what Sadie did. Simon is not one to cry when I leave the room. So, my fear-based brain thinks there is a problem. I assume that if Simon came first and didn't cry when I left the room, I would have confronted a crying Sadie and wondered, with foreboding, "is she insecurely attached? What the hell is with all the crying?"
I have to let go and it gets harder and harder to do in parenting. I have to let go of all the fantasies I had about who my children would be and how they would make me feel and what it would look like. I had a great pregnancy book that talked about how some mothers had to mourn their fantasy baby in order to embrace the baby they actually brought home from the hospital. I feel like I have to do that dozens of times every week. I still can't believe that my children -- both of them-- don't want to just climb in my lap and snuggle with me for hours at a time. I can't believe they don't want to curl up under a blanket and watch The Rosie Show with me. Who are these children that want to run and play and explore and pour yogurt into their spaghetti sauce? Freaks. They are both freaks. They are our freaks. I pray-- honestly, and not just a phrase, I am praying to a higher power-- that I can love them and meet them where they are continue to let go of fantasies and projections that have nothing to do with these two remarkable little beings.
That, and I will keep contributing to their therapy funds. It's the least I can do.