Monday, June 21, 2010

Everyday life: Oh, my {not-so} baby

I've missed him so much.

He's been here, in his growing skin, walking and talking in increasingly sophisticated ways, but he's not been the same since his baby brother was born nine {!!} months ago.

He's been distant. And I've been left grasping at reasons why -- his age, the addition of his brother, potty learning, developmental peaks, teething ... {sigh} me.

Because he suddenly stopped cuddling me when he turned two. He ceased wanting mommy to tuck him in to bed and replaced it with hysterical demands for daddy. He didn't want to go along for the ride anymore; since he's turned two, he's wanted to do the exact opposite of our plans, most of the time. He started clinging to daddy, abandoned his formerly social nature. And the list goes on and on, some tiny little changes only recognizable through my mothering eyes.

I know it's normal for little ones to morph into new people, to test the boundaries, to set their little worlds ablaze in fits of fire in protest of changes ... but my baby boy has seemed so different; he became almost unrecognizable from the sweet, social one year old he'd been. And as I wildly searched for any reason why his little personality seemed so starkly different, I kept coming back to me.

Was it harsh words during exhaustion-infused days of potty learning while caring for a new baby...
Was it the heartbreaking result of less time for just us now that time needed to be shared between so many people ...
Was he mourning the loss of our nursing relationship ...
Were my expectations too high ...

As months dragged on, I mourned the passing of our days spent giggling, exploring our a new world and staring at each other with eyes drenched in the love of a nursling and his mama, I began accepting that somehow, some way I'd failed him. I told myself I was paying for my loss of patience at pivotal moments and my rush to add a new baby with a most-precious blessing -- my first born's security and happiness and love and trust in me.

But as he's been inching closer to his three year mark, my theory has begun unraveling in my fragile heart.

He curled up with me on the couch with a book.

And then he wanted to hold my hand while we were walking on the sidewalk instead of merely tolerating it while we crossed the street.

He cried out for mommy when he hurt his leg even though daddy was the first responder.

He seemed to be breaking out of his thick two-year-old skin rapidly, morphing again, and I hadn't done one.single.thing to evoke the change.

And yesterday when he happily sat next to me and smiled for a picture {but the memory card ran out of space before hubby snapped the photos}, I finally realized, in a brilliant epiphany, that this is not about just me. Or just him.

This is the complicated process of untangling two lives so intertwined that they were once impossible to split.

This is the beginning of him sprouting new roots in soil beyond my heart.

And this is about growing.
For us both.


  1. thank you for posting this, it brought tears to my eyes. I also feel myself "mourning" the loss of my first-born baby. I was his one and only... until he turned 2 and his baby brother was born. Now I play sidekick to daddy, and all things daddy-related. I hope in time our attached relationship will even out again, like it is for you and your son.

  2. Lovely, sincere writing. Each age brings so many adjustments in our relationships with our kids. I try to find the positives in each change.

  3. It is hard when they start to pull away and discover they are separate from you. I'm glad he's returning to that cuddly little boy- sometimes a good cuddle is all a mom's heart needs.

  4. I can barely see the screen through my teary eyes...
    I feel like Fynn and your G are so similar. Tugging at our hearts... they're so simple and so complicated in their needs and desires. And when they want their mommy? It's really priceless...
    (unless it's 9:30 and waaaay past bedtime and they're refusing to go to sleep because they need chocolate chips...)

  5. New roots growing in soil other than your heart?! That is a lovely thought! I mean, rough and shattering...but beautiful :) Why is it so hard to watch them grow up?

    I'm glad your little boy is clinging to you today!

  6. ... yes, and so it will GROW... teen years have been hard for me... then when they are grown and go their separate ways. They think for themselves and use their agency... sometimes to spite you... but not always... frequently not the choice you would chose FOR them... *sigh*

    You are being prepared... but those steps are never easy. (((HUGS)))

  7. Oh how beautiful and gut-wrenching. Because I know this, I ache because of it. It terrifes me, because I fear how much more the abyss will grow between me and my own boys. But it is necessary, it is vital, it is normal. They are everything to me, of that I'm sure, but I cannot be everything to them. And that breaks my heart.

    Your words are achingly beautiful. "Untangling two lives." Oh how I know this.

  8. Oh what bittersweetness - I'm so glad for you that he's finding his way back to you again. Children are such sensitive souls that perhaps he was just trying to steel himself for the inevitability of having to share your affections with a sibling. And now that he's sure you love him just as much as ever, he's ready to place his trust on you again. Just a theory.

    It also makes me think twice about my daughter's clinginess these days. Sure, it can be bothersome when I'm busy, but someday, she won't need me as much or call out to me anymore - how would I feel then?

    Thank you for the inadvertent reminder that even in these difficult moments, there is something to be thankful for.

  9. It's amazing, heat breaking and wonderful to watch them learn and grow. Change. To see how we can influence their little personalities, but also to realize that some things are out of our reach.

    Letting go is one of the hardest parts of motherhood, isn't it?

  10. This is such a beautiful and true post, lady.

    I grieved with Miles, too. The way he seemed to suddenly separate from me. And as a three year old he became a very unlikable version of himself and I totally blamed me. Now I see that it was neither of us, just a stage we both needed to be able to let go a little at a time.

    It's hard. And good. But hard.

  11. My children are older, teenagers just about now (14 and 12) and I think motherhood has all been about a journey from them being totally dependant to becoming independent. They let go a lot easier than we do, and as mother's we blame ourselves for everything. I think motherhood comes with as lifetimes supply of guilt attached.

  12. babies... they're 24, 24 and 22. it was just the other day.
    sigh... mothering is so enormous. thank you for the sweet reminders.

  13. I took some photos of my son the day before his baby brother was born. At the time, I didn't know it was going to be our last day together as "just us".

    I go back to those photos time after time and look at the smile on his face and the carefree look in his eyes. He had no idea his world was about to change. And change it did.

    He has done a great job at accepting his brother, and sharing mom and dad, but I know it is hard for him. And I miss the moments that were just us. I miss my baby. He is growing faster than I can bear, learning and becoming who he is supposed to be.

    I hear and feel your words one hundred percent. So glad he is coming back to you, needing mommy a little bit more. Growing up just happens much too quickly.


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