Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Son is a Meanie (But I Can't Let Go)

"Who loves you?"

I posed this question to my son yesterday morning.

 The Tine was playing with the baby in the bathroom, causing tiny convulsions of infant joy as Bady basked in the attention of his big brother.

 So when I asked, "Who loves you?" I was looking for "The baby."

 Instead he answers, "Pap!"

 "Yes, Pap loves you, but who else?"

 "Mmmmm... Grammy?"

"Grammy loves you too, but who else?"


"Okay, Daddy too.  Who else loves you?"

At this point I could care less if he says the baby, I just want to hear Mama from those sweet, little lips.

"Mmmmm... BABY!!!"

I'm starting to panic and completely dismiss this dose of brotherly affection.  I just keep thinking, "What's going on?  I'm never this far down on the list."

"Hey," I gently pry, "does Mommy love you?"

"Nope," he answers matter-of-factly, retrieving his trains and chugging carelessly down the hall.

My heart breaks and I spend the next twenty minutes following him around, practically shoving the words "Mommy loves me" down his throat while counting the moments of failure that led to this devastating decree.


I felt like the invisible mom all morning... trailing my kids like a pathetic, little puppy dog just teeming for a pat on the head.

Meanwhile, my in-laws were clearly the stars of the show, gaining goofy baby smiles and exhuberant toddler hugs with their unashamed doting and ceaseless attention.

At one point The Tine decided it was time to move out front.  My mother-in-law followed and I took up the rear.

As we traversed the breezeway, heading for the open door, my son abruptly turned, glared at me and yelled, "No, Mommy!" 

I held my head high and stated, "Mommy wants to come too."

But as I attempted to break through his little hand pushed firmly against my leg and he repeated (louder, of course), "No Mommy!"

Now I know I'm twenty years beyond elementary school and am in fact the mother of this pint-sized bully, but tears welled up in my eyes and I wanted to run home sobbing, "My son hurt my feelings!"

Instead I commenced the teacher's role, coolly stating the implications of pushing and generalizing that "it makes people feel sad."

It makes Mommy feel sad.

And I'd like you to stop.


I never thought I would look back fondly on the days where Separation Anxiety crippled our life.  When, in the rare occasions I could leave his side, my son's screams and sobs haunted my consciousness until the moment I walked through the door (and he leapt into my arms).

I laughed at people who told me that one day I would miss those middle-of-the-night feedings, where the fog of sleep blurred the edges between baby and mother, leaving a mass of grogginess, hunger, and deep, pure affection.

I counted with annoyance the strands of thin, blonde hair ripped from my head as he grasped for comfort in the familiar aroma of his Mommy's shampoo.

My baby is growing up.

Eventually, he allowed me out front and together we basked in the sun and each other's affection.

This evening, when his Daddy asked, "Who loves you?" he stated (without hesitation), "Mommy!"

I know these moments of defiance are dramatic shows of his budding independence.  And I realize that hours spent holding my son on the couch, chasing each other around the picnic table, and giggling in bed at night far outweigh mere minutes of thoughtless rejection.

Yet the fact remains that in two short years of motherhood I have lost certain, irreplacable connections with my baby.

Connections that I do, in fact, miss.

But every day I gain so much more. 

When The Tine was a baby I sacrificed my independence for his happiness.

Now I am learning to sacrifice my happiness for his independence.

I still miss the days where he seemed more like an extension of me than a little person of his own.

But I love even more the person he is becoming... his thoughtfulness, his passion, his joy and laughter and boundless energy...

... and the fact that when he crashes at night, after a day of chasing the elusive prize of independence, he does so in his Mommy's arms, with his head slumped into her chest and his hands tangled carelessly in the remaining wisps of her thin, blonde hair.


  1. Independence is a good thing. Although I have to say the snubs don't get any easier to absorb. Even the ones from my teenager still sting considerably.

  2. Oh this was such a sweet and heartbreaking post. Parenting is so hard isn't it. And them growing up and becoming more independent means we are doing the right things. But it doesn't make it any easier.

  3. That was really good and super sweet!

    When my parents come over I am practically invisible to my kids. I used to be sad, now I just fold clothes.

  4. What a lovely sweet post - I too thought the clinging dependency would never end and now it has I am still very glad it did, but I too find a sweet sadness in the fact that every day my 3 year old daughter is taking another step towards independence. Sometimes it feels as if the day will never end, but at the same time times seems to be flying by so quickly.

    I saw your comment on Mom-101 today and followed your link. You have a great blog and some wonderful posts.

  5. Thanks for coming by my blog. i love the blog award I won too.
    This post of your is poignant and inevitabe. It reminds me of one day my son a pre-teen asked me to drive him by a girl's house. We drove all around and never found it. Turns out he wanted to give her a valentine heart box of chocolates. I never got one wah wah.

  6. Motherhood is SO not easy, right???

  7. This is a great post! And it's true. When around certain people, my son prefers them to me (example: he accidentally starts calling my mom, mom - and she loves it and never corrects him). Hayden tells me that I can't do things to help him - only my mom can. He doesn't want to play with me, he wants to play with my mom.

    He has yet to tell me he doesn't love me; however, he is quick to tell me that I am not his "#1."

    And I know it isn't entirely true, but it does hurt. When he prefers others to me (and especially when this occurs a lot within a time span), it really hurts - I have cried about it.

    It's tough... but I have to make peace with it.

    It's great that my son has other people in his life who love him as much as I do and who he loves so much - that really is a wonderful thing that I am thankful for (sometimes though... it can be rough).

    - Melissa


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