Well, I guess I thought at first that it would just get easier what with the baby being gone – like however bad it was the first few days/week would be the worst it was going to be, and it’d get better. To be perfectly honest, that was super wrong. I have been kind of struggling with it the past week or so, now that it’s over a month later.
I have started having these vivid dreams where I get to spend some time with him, and the crazy thing is I am generally quite lucid in my dreams and they are fairly well-thought-out. So for some reason I go into a room and I know I get to have some time with the baby, and the thing is that my subconscious has totally been keeping up with his growing, so he now has all four of his front teeth and the two on the bottom, and he is walking unsteadily. In my dreams. I also tend to realize, fairly early on, that it’s a dream and I kind of think “Well, I guess I don’t have long then before I wake up, so I better enjoy this while I can,” but then I wake up.
I also once or twice had these silly and selfish daydreams where CPS calls and is like “Ms. Daniels? This is the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, we have a kid here named XXXXX, and the file says you have a history with him…”
And I say “YES.”
And he says “Oh, great, well, there has been an accident, and we are in need of a home-”
“I SAID YES.”
“- meaning like a foster placement -”
“YES I SAID YES WHEN CAN WE GET HIM.”
“- and I’m sure you need some time to talk it over with your husband…”
“NO I DON’T ARE YOU BRINGING HIM OR SHOULD I COME THERE WHEREVER THERE IS I WILL BE THERE IN TEN MINUTES.”
In my daydream in a span of about eight seconds I have mentally mapped out where all of his clothes are and sippy cups he could use and the high chair and the car seat and which CVS is on the way to the CPS office so I could get diapers. It’s a problem. (I am also clearly an obsessively detailed and literal day- and night-dreamer.)
Monday I was sick and I stayed home from work, and I think that might have been literally the first time in about two months that I wasn’t either with kid(s), or at work, or leaving the kid(s) with Dane to go to some other obligation or event, and I was just at home, by myself. All day.
And I will be honest with you, there were a few points where the tears started coming and for once I wasn’t like in a bathroom stall at work or around the corner from the toddler, so I could let them, and they just came. And came, and came, and came.
Look. There are all the things I know about why it’s okay and why we knew it was coming etc. etc., but at the end of the day, there were ten months where I spent (considerably) more time with that delightful child than with any other human being. That’s pretty significant, it just is. And I loved it ALL. I can try to be honest and not revisionist and think back on times when it wasn’t just candy canes and roses, and I can think of like two times when I didn’t know how to handle naps right and got frustrated, but honestly he was just FUN. And SWEET. And wonderful, like, all the time.
I ended up watching Lars and the Real Girl which actually turned out to be surprisingly totally helpful in a weird way. I love movies as therapy. Do it all the time. Carefully selected fiction of whatever kind can often be the best prescription.
Now I have this little person that is in a very different stage of life which is kind of in some ways more exhausting, but also kind of more interesting, because I feel like I literally am teaching him all day. Every day. We don’t hit. This is how we eat. This is red, this is blue. One, two, three. We say please, we don’t just melt down and wail when we want something. We share. We don’t throw heavy objects in the house or at other people. We have to wait for food to be made before we can eat it. We have to be patient. This is a leaf, this is a bug, this is a spider, don’t touch.
It certainly feels very important, this kind of parenting. It’s definitely different and it definitely came suddenly, but it’s good and it’s getting better all the time, just as we figure it out and continue to get to know each other.
I am really trying to work with him on contentment, fully realizing this might take a year (or 19) to learn… but like today we went to the farmers market to see Ella and Papa and Grandma and Puppies and Trucks. He got a fresh-baked croissant. We went to the playground. We did the slide and the swings. He got to run up and down the market and play with puppies and pumpkins.
On the way home, it was “Mama. I want puppy.” “We just saw puppies, remember?” “Mama, I want eat.” “We just ate, remember? A big breakfast, and then also a croissant.” “Mama, I want Reesee.” “Reesee came over last night and you got to play with her, was that fun?” “Mama, I wanna swing.” “We just went on the swing, remember? Can we think about how fun it was and be thankful?” “Mama, I want I want I want.”
So I finally just said, because sometimes when he just kind of is fixated, I have decided that the most effective thing is to give a lecture that he totally will not understand, but at least it generally confuses him into silence for a second: “Hey, let’s try to think about the fun things we did, and the yummy things we ate, and the pretty things we can see. Let’s try to think about what we have and be thankful, instead of just constantly fixating on the things we want that we don’t have.”
“Mama, stop,” he said, and pulled his arms out of his straps, squirmed around, sat up on his knees in the stroller, and looked me in the eye. “Mama,” he said, “YOU do it.”
Ok, no, he didn’t. What actually happened is he kind of didn’t say anything for a minute, and then “Mama, I want puppy.”
But it would have been cool if he said that.
I’ll pretend like he did say that, and try to pay attention to my own lessons sometimes.
*I couldn’t think of a title so I asked Dane to just title it knowing nothing whatsoever about the post, and this is what he said, and I was like OMG IT KIND OF WORKS, if you stretch, what with the whole part about teaching life the universe and everything to a young paduan.