A mom divided

I wrote this 2 weeks ago, and tossed it aside. Not for the blog, I thought. Too fragmented and emotional. When I read it again this morning, I  recanted. I should post this. Because it’s fragmented and emotional, and I’m sure some of you will relate.

***

I love my new job. And it’s making it harder and easier to be a mom.

I get a break from the incessant demands of home and children. I ride my bike up the hill and sit at a desk and order lunch and walk about freely, where I’d like when I’d like. I’m making money, which feels blissfully good. Being at home has a new sweetness to it.

And

I have so little time to spend with Jo, just the two of us. I’m coming to terms with just how many hits our time together has taken in the last year: baby Cal joining the menagerie, Jo starting pre-school and me starting this job. This time last year, I spent all but 12 hours a week with Jo, traipsing to parks, wrestling him into rest time, gardening and navigating his physical outbursts sometimes with patience and other times by screaming in his face and then being racked with tears and guilt.

Ah yes, there was that. It’s easy to forget from this place, where unlimited time with Jo is the greener pasture. That damned greener pasture—always re-locating to somewhere other than where I am.

It’s such a radical shift to suddenly need to schedule time to hang out with Jo. So much so that I haven’t really done it at all. And I miss him. I miss the team that we used to be—sure, it wasn’t all roses, but he was my sidekick.

I worry that he may be suffering as a result. His crazy dips into extreme hyper-ness, run-by pinching of Cal.

And here’s the truth of it. It’s harder for me to connect with him these days not just because I have less time, but because I just don’t understand him as well.

Somehow, in the past couple of years, he’s slowly morphed from a soft innocent into a hard, fast trickster. And it’s harder for me to like him.

Right around that same time, I gave birth to blonde Cal. Sweet blonde Cal, into whose sweet, chubby softness I can dive for hours and feel an easy bliss.

I’ve been avoiding one child and seeking refuge in the other.

And the less I connect with Jo, the harder it gets. And the stranger he seems to me.

This division of myself between my two sons, this is what I worried about when thinking of having another baby—having to shift my attention between 2.

This gorgeous image was generously shared by Barbara Butkus. Talk about an honest photo. It captures that challenge of toggling attention between multiple kids, no?

Is this just the inevitable course of our relationship? This slowly widening distance over which it feels too hard to bridge?

In having a second child, was I unknowingly signing myself up to lose my closeness with the first?

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6 Comments

  1. I’ve been there! I don’t remember being quite as conscious of it at the time (or maybe I was, but I can’t remember!), but in my memory now, I have this fuzzy recollection of my oldest’s couple of years, maybe from age 3-4, where I really don’t remember much about what she was like. I was so tuned into my baby at that time! I’m sure I lived those times fully and enjoyed my oldest, but my baby demanded so much from me, that there was definitely a certain level of disconnect with my oldest. But now that she’s going on 7, we are fully bonded and everything’s fine! She does really respond positively to me scheduling time for her; we call it “special girl time.” All in all, I don’t think she holds it against me. Kudos to you, for noticing the disconnect. Even little gestures toward Jo will go a long way with him. And, when Cal gets a little older, they will be such great buddies and that too is such an equally great but different kind of parenting reward. Xo.

    Reply
  2. I can definitely relate to this. Babies/toddlers are so charming and adorable in their innocence and sweetness, and preschoolers/school-age kids are in a testing, wriggling, hard-to-pin-down time of life, so loving them requires more effort.

    Things that work for me: laying with older for bedtime, “tail to snout,” and really snuggling and cuddling as he drifts off, reading longer books together on the couch, designating younger child’s nap time as “together time” (perhaps on the weekends), taking him alone along on errands when my partner can stay with little brother (it’s so easy for Mom to pair with nursling, Dad with older child, but it’s important for us to mix this up dynamic).

    Abby

    Reply
  3. Heck yeah, I can relate. I have a 6 year old and a 20 month old, both boys. I used to play so much with the older one. We’d spend hours playing with trains and his Sesame Street House. Now, it’s frustrating to play with him. He wants me to play five characters at once, and follow his and only his storyline. He gets mad if one of my guys doesn’t do what he wants…in other words, he has his own mind. The baby, however, also has his own mind, but is so eager to just get attention–he likes to watch me play with those same trains and make silly stories with the Sesame guys, just like his brother used to do.

    Like Abby suggested above, I’ve been trying to carve out time with my older son. It helps, but I miss the spontaneity, the easy connection. I think it is part of life.

    Reply
  1. How my “spirited child” and I found our way home | An Honest Mom

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