Wednesday, June 6
you have just come to a sad realization, cancel or allow?
I have, over the course of my career as a mother, been accused many times of being a "great mother." And while I don't argue with that assessment most of the time, in recent months my work has been short of stellar. I can lay down the reasons and the excuses, but the hard fact remains that things need to change.
I had the luck today to be graced with the presence of not one but two great friends, one a mother, one not, who both did their part in helping with what I am currently going through. The first hour of the visit it was just my mama friend, her daughter, Sebastian and I, we played and drank coffee and I tried to make a little more sense of yesterday (and the preceding months). Sadly I was distracted by my unusually (though less so lately) badly behaved son. It made me really sad to see how he socialised with a long-time friend of his and it hurt me to think that his often off-putting (within his peer-group, at least) behaviour was the result of the things I had done.
I am not someone who expects her kids will be perfect, though I do expect they will be polite, respectful and gentle the majority of the time. I don't want to be the mother who lords over her child constantly to ensure he is not giving another child a bloody nose... but in recent times I have become that mother. And I yell, oh boy do I yell - not always angrily, but loudly... he just has such amazing selective hearing. And it drives me batty: you can't whisper "chocolate" within 20 feet of him, but you attempt to get the kid to pick something up and suddenly he doesn't understand the language.
I don't know what exactly it is we need to do, but a great change is in the making. Over the last 2+ months, since we decided to move to Vancouver, things have gotten worse and worse. Our routines are currently non-existent, as is our (his and mine) play-time. Most days I just want him to play in the background while I attempt to get something done (I say something, but nothing ever gets done - that's another issue). The way I see Sebastian has gotten unhealthy for both of us as has the way I see my job. Things are not about to change, what with another coming and no real way I would a) make enough working outside the home to cover daycare expenses and b) ever actually want to. This stay-at home gig has been the awesomest thing I have ever done - truly the first thing I have ever believe I could be really great at. So what's happening?
We've fallen out of our routines, routines that had become such a part of our lives we did them without thinking. Since we started packing and cleaning and cleaning and unpacking all that has gone out the window. Sebastian is our canary in the mine, letting us know how bad it has gotten. And while Andrew and I have definitely seen the symptoms we have been urgently trying to control those without considering the bigger problem at hand. Mainly the psychological and physical needs of a smart, active two-year old being unmet. I forget that we often did simple crafts together, went out and were social with other kids (2-4 times a week), went for nature walks, played, talked... we were best buds and I could anticipate many of his needs and desires before they caused problems. This isn't to say things were great then either - bringing up a kid, as I hear, is hard work no matter how you throw the dice. No, the difference was, more often than not, we were having fun. Sure I left him to his own devices a lot - but that was only because everything we did otherwise was as a duo (trio on weekends). Sure he had issues with all the things kids do as they climb the developmental ladder, but we handled each situation as it came to us in the best manner we could (or could think of).
As two approached and as our move approached things changed. He kept growing and evolving, but as a parent I stayed pretty stagnant. We would try and succeed with things here and there (time outs), but mostly I was complacent. Lulled by the fact that we have an amazing kid. A tipping point came where our symbiotic relationship became almost non-existent and we were instead two creatures simply trying to take what we needed (or wanted) from the other.
I don't know if it was weaning that tipped us over - but it has been his persistent requests for "boobah" that turned on the light for me. That physical closeness, as much as I resented it near the end, was so important to us and was something that once lost desperately needed a stand-in. Sitting and cuddling isn't currently an option as he and I both bore of it quickly and get squirmy (well, he squirms, my mind wanders). I think, today, I hit on our substitute though, and it is so smack-on-the head obvious, reading. Yup, that's it, reading.
I hope the rest comes as easily.
Back to today, my non-mama friend came over about half-way through the afternoon. She is incredible with kids and her presence allowed me to relax a bit more - but I still found myself in these spots where I would just have no fucking clue what to do or say. Usually after painting myself into a corner with words and finding myself at a point where I need to wonder - do I ignore the behaviour now because it just isn't worth the fight? Or do I follow through? I found myself looking around for answers, but there were none to be found - I am mom and the buck really does stop with me. Fuck. My self-confidence is still struggling to rebuild itself, which is a horrid place to be when you have a kid because all of a sudden, like it or not, the kid has the power.
This friend and I talked briefly before she left, she has a way of probing me and asking the questions I want to avoid that I find so invaluable. While talking to her things cleared up a little more for me and my blind optimism started taking a tangible shape.
I am not happy with how things are right at this instant (if it isn't obvious already) but I am optimistic. We have recovered from so many things, Andrew and I, we have learned so much and even had the balls to decide to bring another baby into our lives. Failure is not an option, so the only path leads up. The "sad" realisation is that it is going to take a whole bunch of conscious effort to undo the last three months. Happily we realized that now and not a few more moths down the road when added change (on top of the impending sibling) would have made things much harder. We'll start by setting out things like a schedule and some simple and more complex goals - we have given this operation the code-name "DPB" for deprogram boo. Books and spreadsheets will be used. We mean business (if you couldn't tell from the fancy codename).
Things really will be alright - this is a hiccup, a little one at that. I am relieved to have had the other shoe drop so that I can see everything as it is.