Last Thursday Micah worked from home. While Manchild 2 napped, I took Manchild 1 out for a run to keep the boy out of his dad’s hair. We ran to the park, almost all the way around it, but then stopped at a playground just before we hit the hill. It was awesome to only have one kid in the stroller, but even more awesome that the pre-school groups and day-campers were just leaving as we got to the playground so we had the whole thing almost to ourselves. And we had each other to ourselves as well. I know it wasn’t the first time since M2 was born that I’ve been able to spend some time just with M1, but it always surprises me how much fun it can be. And how much different my child acts when I am focused on him. Or maybe how much different things are for me when I’m able to revert to being a mother of one, just for a little while.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who woke up the day after their second baby was born to find out that their first had somehow morphed into a monster. I know that M1 is a wonderful child, intelligent and kind and helpful, but since I spend so much of my time trying to protect his younger brother from his well-meaning but clumsy attention, it often feels as though we are at odds. Or maybe even at war. And sometimes I think he’s being annoying just to get to me. Okay, let’s face it. Sometimes he is being annoying just to get to me. Part of it is that he is three years old, of course. And part of it is that his world is very different than it was last October — well, both of our worlds are very different. But part of it is also that I don’t always handle the demands on my time and attention very well.
How different it is when I have nothing to distract me from him! He’s back to being the adorable little boy that I know he really is. At the playground last week, I spun him on the tire swing and chased him on the jungle gym. I didn’t have to worry about the little brother and he didn’t feel the need to distract me from the little brother. We had nowhere else to be and no one to get in our way. It was fun — and a much needed reminder that I need to take the time to get to know my children and examine what they are like when they are allowed to just be themselves. I can’t do it when I’m distracted or when they are competing from my attention. They need me to be fully present for just a little while every now and then to cultivate our relationship. I hope I can remember how important it is to take that time before I throw up my hands and surrender to the monster instead of looking for the little boy who has lost his mom.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who is pleasantly surprised to find out, every now and then, that their child actually is practically perfect in every way. (No matter how fleeting the surprise is.)