I’ve been writing blogs in my head for the past few months, thinking “Yes, this would make a good blog entry. This is right where I’m at.” Then, alas, nothing is written for obvious life reasons. Most of them revolve around a general desperation since Malcolm was born. Its not overly dramatic at all, its just the right word for it.
One of the imaginary blogs would have been about a man who bought me a chik-fil-a gift card. He was a stranger who happened to hop right out of his car in the parking lot, just to open the door for me to get into the place. I must have looked desperate and cold, but that doesn’t typically prompt others to help me, so I was very grateful for his help, having two kids in tow. Little did he know that I had a newly purchased bottle of wine in the stroller basket. That’s the kind of day I was having. Nevertheless, we were going to amuse ourselves at chik-fil-a and get through to naptime, even though it wasn’t in the budget. Neither was the wine. As I was hauling everyone to the bathroom, an employee approached us and handed over a gift card, saying the man outside bought it for me. It was for $20. I cried in the bathroom. Yes, the card was great, but what made the difference to me was that this man “saw” me. I remember seeing tired moms at the grocery store with their children and thinking nothing of it. They do this everyday. Now, I see that even getting in and out of a doorway can be quite an endeavor, and I want to hand the frazzled mom a cup of coffee and give her a hug and walk away. This man saw me and I cried, because everyday can feel like a marathon that I haven’t had enough sleep to train for.
Most of the other imaginary blogs sounded like a broken record: “This is hard. This sucks. Help me. HELP…HELP…” I was even annoying myself with the pleading in my head. But there have been some positive things that have happened recently. I decided to stop medicating with food and get an accountability partner. We have been talking about how to crave God instead of food. I’ve lost over 13 lbs since late December and I hope to lose 25 lbs total. I’ll keep you posted.
Last week I had a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting. I absolutely love these meetings because I get to have a couple hours, kid-free and drink coffee and hang out with adults. Its about the little things. I put Malcolm in childcare this semester, so I was pretty stoked that I didn’t have to wear my 18 lb infant on my person this time. Long story short (too late?), Malcolm wouldn’t nap unless I held him, and wouldn’t transfer so I could have a few moments peace. I ended up with my head in my hands in the hallway, with angry tears saying things like, “I’m tired of doing this SHIT everyday,” to a MOPS mom who happened upon me in the hallway. Followed by, “I will NOT cherish these moments,” and “This is not beautiful and wonderful all the time!!!”, and “I WILL NOT miss this!”
I did end up getting to hear the speaker and cram a donut in my face out of frustration (I told my accountability partner) before needing to rescue Malcolm from the nursery, so it wasn’t a complete waste, but I was upset. I had the expectation that I would get a couple hours to myself. I DESERVE a couple hours.
Now here’s what has happened since.
Three people in my (and Eric’s) experience have died within one week. All of them were in their early thirties, dying of freak ailments that don’t normally afflict thirty year olds. They weren’t extremely close friends, but their passing was a jolt to us as a part of their respective communities.
Second, I have realized my expectation for Malcolm is that he be someone different. He “should” be X. Y, or Z. He should sleep, he should be content, he he should blah blah blah. I feel like the root of most disappointment is unmet expectation. But for me as a parent, isn’t it all about comparison? Why do I think he should be certain way? It’s because Sally Shmoe’s kid is sleeping better.
Lie Number One:
“My kid isn’t this way because of ME. Its someting I DID. Its something I’m NOT DOING.”
Okay, lets stop right there. Parents, I’m talking to you. This is the point where I tell you my realization… and the cheesy music plays. Like at the end of Full House. Here’s my journey:
“Malcolm is my son. He is exactly the way he’s supposed to be. It is not about me. It is about him. And I will celebrate what that looks like.”
(Cue cheesy music)
Okay, this difficult infant thing is not new to me. This is number two of two discontented infant, but Malcolm has come a long way. He sits in a stroller (or carseat) now without screaming the WHOLE time, he likes daddy, he eats solids. When things are good, they’re AMAZING. It feels like a commercial. Malcolm is adorably cooing while chewing on blocks while Eric teaches Vi the difference between a Dimetrodon and a Spinosauraus while I bake bread from scratch. Its so perfect, it is almost nauseating. The next moment Eric and I are wondering why we didn’t get a vasectomy sooner.
My point is that I’m learning how to view Malcolm with a different lense: as a person. As an individual. As my son. If I continue to see him as an unmet expectation, what kind of future will he have, him feeling not good enough? I don’t want to find out.
Things are better. Things are good a lot of the time. I hope to continue to learn the things I need to learn to be present for my kids. Its really hard some days, but that’s my job, and I love having that opportunity.