I found this old draft today, it’s from March. I don’t know why I didn’t publish it then. I could have written it today, in fact. We are in a phase right now where Fresco is clinging, teething, wanting UP, UP, UP (only he says it “dawoooooooonnnn”) and Trombone is clenching his jaw, getting in surreptitious hits when he thinks I don’t see or hopes I do. I did a lot of deep breathing today, a lot of closing my eyes and imagining a quiet plain with only me and chirruping chickadees.
We were at the park today. Park season is starting; there were three other kids there! I have missed other people at the park.
Anyway. It was one of those sunny / cloudy / windy days where the sun is hot when it’s on you so you take your coat off and then the wind picks up and you put your coat on and then the clouds cover the sun and you start to worry it might rain. It was then that I came up with an analogy to explain what I know about my two children and their relationship to me. Ready?
I am the sun.
I like this metaphor because duh, who doesn’t want to be the sun, but also because the sun is neither good nor bad. She is just the thing you want. And when she shines on you you feel all warm and hopeful and smiley. And when she shines somewhere else, you get mad and apprehensive and mean. And then she comes back. And goes away.
I have noticed the behavior in Trombone for a while now: he is a lovely, funny, charming child when all the attention is on him and then a little asshat when his brother is in the room. Only recently have I noticed the same behavior from Fresco. Grappling and headbutting me like a little mountain goat, shrieking incomprehensible things when I turn away; I am this crazy, glowing god that they each must possess entirely or I lose all worth.
I have read enough to know it will not always be thus. They will prefer their father. They will prefer their grandparents. They will prefer some horrible musician that I will say “…but s/he isn’t even in TUNE!” about. I have not worshiped my own parents in some time (sorry guys). Of course I should appreciate this while I can, appreciate that the air is brighter for them when I am in it, appreciate that I am all-knowing, all-fixing, all.
Somehow, though, I can not. This may be one of those things I will need to regret in a few years because I can not enjoy the moment if the moment is two loud voices competing for my attention. I can not enjoy the moment if I am being injured by them fighting over my precious abdominal area. (“I came out of there FIRST!” “Yeah, well I came out of there MOST RECENTLY!” is how I imagine the conversation) After carrying, birthing, nursing, carrying, birthing, nursing I want the sun to shine out of someone else right now. I want to hide behind a cloud.
I knew about the pull / push of children gaining independence from parents. I guess I never considered that parents would feel the same pull /push. And I certainly never thought life would be so cruel as to have me pushing while they are clinging.
Is this just my kids? Is it all siblings? (I don’t have any siblings, remember, so I am flying blind) Is it me? Am I burnt out? Crazy? Normal? Is it going to be like this forever? Will I ever sit in a room with both of them and be able to talk to one without the other trying to one-up?
More, I am wondering – am I somehow messing up their sibling relationship, already, by not giving each his due of individual attention? Except it seems that’s all I do, is give each attention. They always want more. And then I am all out. They have to learn to live together, they have to learn to share. My job is to love them. To let them figure out their own relationship.
And to keep their fingernails short.
But then, re-reading this, I realize that yes, this day did happen again today and yes, it was irritating beyond belief, but today? I did not feel any of the above-mentioned doubt, anguish, regret. I just felt irritation. And a bit of “Git ‘er done.” Do you know what I credit with the change in my perspective? Sleep. Lots of it. Let no one tell you it’s just sleep and you’ll catch up someday. You need it now and your mental health depends on it.