I don’t gush here much about motherhood because usually Stephen says all the things I would say but in much finer words and people think it’s sweet to hear these things from a dad. Also, I can hear the giant inhalation of breath from the internet at large and then the disgustedly voiced, “Mommy Blogger!”
However, this week I can’t hold it in.
I’ve been going through a bit of a down spell. I wouldn’t call it depression exactly. It’s been more of a time of stupid busyness that I haven’t been able to control. And it’s caused me to be short with Eli and often to sit him in front of the tv so that I can get just one more thing done.
How sad is that? To get the privilege to stay at home with your kids and then not take advantage of seeing all the interesting transformations that happen along the way. Last week I decided to do something about it, so each day since I have dedicated a chunk of time to doing whatever Eli wants to do. This is good for several reasons: it makes me feel less guilty (not the main reason but a pleasant one anyway), he doesn’t think that Sesame Street is on 24/7 and, amazingly, he is better behaved when I dedicate some time to his designs. Oh, and yeah, I get to spend time with my amazingly clever child.
Yesterday, I was looking at some video footage from November. Eli is a baby in these few frames I’ve collected. In one he scrubs around on the kitchen floor with his blanky and points at the camera and says in his baby voice, “Circle, Mama, Circle!”
I’ve tried so hard to make him be independent. Since I quit nursing Eli, I have insisted that Stephen be able to put him to bed and care for him in other ways. I will never forget overhearing someone from our former church say that she could never leave her kids with her husband because the husband wouldn’t know what to do for the kids. I vowed that day (some six years before we even thought about kids) that our family would never work that way. But I think I may have given up some things along the way. Eli would just as well be comforted by any number of people when he is upset, sick or hurt. I am not Queen Mommy because he’s learned that we have a community of people around us that care for us. Don’t get me wrong, I love that community and wouldn’t trade it for anything but I do still occasionally wish I ranked highest in his world.
I hope though that this independence is good. Maybe it will be easier to send him to kindergarden. Maybe I won’t hurt so much giving him up because I’ve already started the process. And everyday when he gets home from school he’ll be excited to tell me about what he learned. And then when he goes to college, I’ll be ready to have some peace in my house and spend some time with Stephen that doesn’t include toys on the floor. And then one day he’ll call me and say that he’s getting married and I will gain another person into my family.
Give them secure roots and they will develop strong wings.
Do you know that saying? The trite roots and wings thing? Before I was a parent, I thought it was cheesy (actually I still think it’s a cheesy saying) but I get the sentiment better now than every before. I know I’m working on both roots and wings at the same time and it’s so hard to be present in every moment of every day and not feel like I am lost to myself. It’s something I have talked about here before and I still don’t have any answers. I guess it’s hard to come out on the other side with any sort of personality that’s not 98% Mother. I guess really I want it both ways. I want to be Queen Mommy but only when I want it and still get to have “me” time.
Today, we visited Chrissy, Will and Baby Luke. I was outside pushing Will and Eli in the swings while Chrissy made lunch. Will clutched his daisy (this boy is a horticulturist in training) and pointed out clouds and airplanes while Eli made up rhymes.
“Car rhymes with star! What rhymes with star?”
“Far?” I say, “Tar? Bar? Bizarre?”
“Noooo!” Eli says.
“Yessss!” I say.
“OK. Car, bar, far…what rhymes with Camel, Mom?”
Yeah, I’m stumped. I don’t know what rhymes with Camel. I’m sure that something does, but without looking it up on the internet, I have no idea. (It’s YAML, by the way, like anyone who isn’t a programmer knows that.) I know that there isn’t an English word to rhyme with orange and it’s the only word that doesn’t have a rhyme but Camel has me stumped.
Maybe this conversation holds the answer. To keep learning with Eli instead of trying to keep myself so separate. To be challenged by what he talks about and learn new stuff to keep up with him. So we are challenged together at the same time. I’ll have to think about this. It’s only coming to me as I write it down.
Eli starts Mother’s Morning Out in three weeks. He’s going two days a week this year. Twice! twice, twice as much time as last year. Surely that will be enough “me” time. I’ll let you know. There’ll probably be some maudlin post here from me about how much I miss my kid while he’s at school.