Little Barometers

This post is only for imperfect parents like me--those of us still trying to figure things out. Should you be a perfect parent (I know you are out there) this post will just frustrate you. And I don't want to ever do that.

It all started when I stopped hearing the slamming of the toilet seat throughout the day, the productive sound of The Chief getting his business done all by himself. It was also the sound of me patting myself on the back for teaching my child independence. Hooray for us both.

But those absentee slams were a clue to my finding out he was peeing in his closet. Behind the closed doors. Which, to be fair, I had heard of other boys doing, but still...

Then I started to notice his appetite was minimal and his treatment of sippy cups with milk was preferential--so preferential he didn't want anything else. Instead of the routine sippy in the morning and one at night, it was like I was running a all-day toddler bar, mixing up milky sippys at all hours.

And he couldn't sleep through the night. He'd wake up screaming, sweaty and restless.

I waited for time to pass to see if this was a fluid phase. Nothing seems to last long in toddler life. But after a few weeks I decided to dig deeper.

I prayed.

And in that prayer I felt like The Chief's problems were as easily solved by my attention, my adoration and most of all my teaching him more about things--whatever comes up--rockets, robots or light sabers. But this revelation I easily whisked off with, I spend most of my life with that boy, and when it's not me he has Daddy. How much more could he need?

But Sunday was the worst. The behavior was hard to ignore. His acting out was followed by quick Sorry Mommy which broke my heart. It was like he knew he was doing wrong, but couldn't help himself. And so I was sent to my knees again.

Then Uncle Jeremy showed up for dinner. Uncle Jeremy (previously referred to as MD around here) is a pediatrician with an emphasis in child and adolescent psychiatry. I try really hard not to plug into his profession but I couldn't help but pour my heart out when he walked in the door.

"I think it's regression," I said.

"Have you talked about this baby coming?" he asked.

"A little."

"I know you are probably tired and sick, have you been able to give him one on one time lately?"

"Not really."

I thought about how zapped I have felt lately. The heat? The pregnancy? Stress? I am not so busy as I am distracted. Last week I started to think about getting ready for the new baby and that process sent me into a new dimension. Little onesies with little socks and little wash cloths. But whatever the distraction it came with a justification: Chup's home right now, he can give them what they need while I just . . . just . . . get my bearings.

This was interrupted by Jeremy's intense look in my direction.

"It has to be you," he said to me with his eyes as blue as they were serious and kind. "I mean, you are the established nurturer. Look at it this way, whenever he comes asking for a sippy, think of it as him asking for more of you. And it has to be you."

Of course it does. It's always been me. And though I spend mostly all of my time at home with him, I had not been giving my son the richest part of myself. The part that is true and real and honest. He was just getting the crusty outsides that don't satisfy his daily allowance. I was starving my son of myself.

And then boy, did I well up.

Not because I felt guilt, but because I suddenly realized how important I am. Not me as me, but me as a mother. I am important because I am The Chief's mother. I am his everything. And my half-nutrient attention will directly affect his holistic progression. He needs me to look at him every day and reassure him that he is important too. And it has to be me. It has to be me.

And it makes me think. In our church we baptize children at eight years old. I've mused that perhaps it's because it takes eight years for the veil of heaven to be completely removed from the consciousness. Up until eight years old the parent, specifically the mother, has to be body and spirit for both beings. The connectedness to my newborns--the consuming of my physical and emotional energy--has always been overwhelming. Slowly it tapers off, but I miscalculated how much my three year old would require. It was more than I was giving.

So today after our work was done we read books. We made rocket ships and robots out of the letter A. We played Wolves and Fairies on the piano, we made cookies and had a break dance battle on the soft carpet in the front room (he won, killer head spin). We sat down and ate lunch together. He gladly drank out of a non-sippy receptacle. He volunteered to get in the tub (who is this child?) and just before tucking him into bed I heard a familiar sound. A sound I hadn't heard in ages.

Clank and slam.

We're making progress again.

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