Being a mom is a giant 72lb backpack of guilt that you carry around 24 hours a day. (When you sleep it sits on your face). Also, mixed into that bag is a few cans of worry and containers of ohshit.
We just got back from our first trip away with G since October. We went to visit some friends in Virginia who also have a baby a little younger than G. I should begin this tale by telling you that he is an angel. Like one of those kids who you can get all up in their face, scream curse words at, break their toys and take their food while they smile happily at you, offering to share whatever it is you would like. He’s adorable and I love him.
But when you have a child like G and he is with angel baby for 48 hours, the high neediness of G really smacks you in the face. It’s kind of like you don’t realize how fat you are until you see your friend whose size 23 waist is just too tiny for that Herve Ledger dress. And then you run home and throw out your entire chocolate covered chocolate stash.
And what you feel is guilt. You feel incredibly guilty for wishing your child was any other way than how he is. There is a quote that I read daily that helps me out with G. Here it is:
Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It’s about understanding that he is exactly the person he is supposed to be. And that, if you’re lucky, he just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be.” – Joan Ryan
I know, sap tree in your face. Sorry. I take whatever I can get to get me through the day.
So I’ll admit, on this trip while wonder baby is happily interacting with adults, playing nicely and G is screaming at the wall for no reason, I cried a bit. I cried for the guilt that I was feeling and a bit because I felt like I was mourning the loss of ever having a content happy child. I just know that G will never be wonder baby. And although that is OK and he is who is he, it’s a “sentence” for us as parents. People say to us “parenting a child like that will be tough for a long time” or “You guys are good parents, you’re working really hard”. Yes we work very hard to get through the day. And every day is still one day at a time. Sometimes and hour at a time. And I can’t help but sometimes feel envious of all the wonder babies’ parents out there.
I remind myself that as G gets older he will continue to be passionate and have a spark in life and will speak his mind. Those are all super wonderful things. But for now, getting through the hour or 15 minutes without crying or whining is ultimately and never endingly exhausting.
So today happened to be G’s 15 month appointment. I thought the doctor would be concerned about his poops that are mud pies in his pants or how he will only eat chicken nuggets or fishsticks. But he was only concerned with his temperament. Terms like ADHD came up. **(I need to clarify this. The doctor said “It’s too early to consider ADHD yet”. But the mere mention of the word freaked me out. He is a great doctor.) And I had to choke back tears with all of my might as I answered the doctor’s questions:
D: Is he affectionate?
D: not at all?
Me: No, he prefers running to hugging.
D: Does he get frustrated easily?
Me: Yes and then he just wants to hit things.
D: writes things down…(I hate when they write things down).
And the doctor sent me away with some homeopathic remedy to calm him down and for some signs to watch for. And I died a little inside. It’s not like I was sad because he was sick with a fever or cold. I was sad because of who he is as a person. And as a mother there is something wrong with that. And there is that backpack of guilt again. On my face no less.
And so we came home and played outside today. We looked at flowers and grass and dirt. And then G sort of looked at me for a minute, came up to me and put his head in my lap. He sat up and gave me a hug and a kiss. Then he just stayed there for a while. It was like he knew I needed it. I was struggling and he was saying “hey mom, I love you, here’s a hug. I’m not super affectionate but neither are you. And you’re cool.” And I cried again.
We all want the best for our kids and we want them to be happy. Seeing your kid cry more during the day than not, is heartbreaking. Comparing them to other kids is heartbreaking-er. Because you feel like a bad parent.
I know that we’ll be OK. There are lots of other kids out there with harder struggles to face than a tough personality and lots of other parents who have to deal with worse (there’s that backpack again).
I will remind myself of the person he is, who he’ll become and if we’re lucky he’ll be something great. Like a blogger.
Setting our sights high.