Monday, August 15, 2011

Mama Bean and Papa Bean listened to Sprout scream for an hour last night (also, some thoughts on heart pantries...)

When my kids are happy, and being cute, my love for them is right at the surface, it's "easy." I don't have to dig too far into my psyche to feel it. I just look at their smiling eyes, and it's right there, reflecting back at me: Pure. Love. And those moments, oh how they feed a mother's soul, am I right? We store those moments away, in the heart's pantry, for a rainy day... ("the heart's pantry"? Did I honestly just write that?!)

Ooh those rainy days. When my kids are unhappy, or being less-than-cute, I have to dig a little deeper. I have to look down, past the (mis?)behaviour and the feelings, and really pull up on my love for them, and heave it up up up to me, and sort of internally inhale. Re-oxygenate my mothering soul. And then exhale (slowly slowly) the frustration and the exhaustion and the mother hurt.

Okay, examples. Bean has lately discovered spitting out liquids. For fun. He dribbles water onto the floor, onto his lap, onto his parents, whatever. He doesn't find it uproariously funny or anything, he's just kind of... exploring? Seeing what happens? He's being a(n almost) 2-year-old. I don't really think he's doing it for a reaction, and we're trying not to give him one, but it's so ugh. Like, I can handle pee and poop but for some reason saliva makes me squiggy? I'm weird. And I'm trying to go all Positive Parenting about it, and look for the underlying reasons or feelings or unmet needs or whatever. And I'm thinking, as I wipe it up, that in this moment, that Pure Love reflection is a little clouded, a little slimed, y'know? I have to dig down and pull up...

Last night, Sprout screamed for an hour before falling asleep. We don't know why, maybe burps, maybe farts, some incarnation of the Eeeeevil Gassesses. She hasn't had a bad evening for a long time, and this time definitely felt like one of the most (if not The Most) intense. She gets so upset, she chokes on her own teary mucus :( We tried swaddling and not swaddling, soother and no soother, upright and tummy and laying back and in between. I gave her a tummy massage. Mostly, we just held her until it was over. We all have evenings like this, right? And it was hard, to dig past the frustration and the ugly thoughts and the please-just-be-quiet, to pull up the love...

Have you ever been the jerk that tricks someone into pulling and pulling and pulling on something and then suddenly letting go, so all their effort rolls over them and they fall backward with the force of it? I have older brothers, so this happened to me a lot. Or that trick where you push your arms against a door-frame and hold hold hold and then suddenly step out and your arms float up involuntarily with incredible weightlessness?

When I carried Sprout up to bed, and marveled at how her long body no longer curls against my body, but rather curls around me, so big and stretched out and five-months-old (gah!), it was like whatever I was pulling against suddenly let go, it was like stepping out of the door-frame. All the love I was digging down for just rushed up and smacked me in the face and soul and heart (and yes, even the heart pantry /sigh.) I nursed her and brushed her sweaty hair from her face until her dark eyelashes rested on her cheeks again, and thought about the calm after the storm. The clarity. The Love Rush.

We always love our children, but we don't always love parenting. When I complain about some parenting thing, and some status bubble burster comes along to remind me to "cherish every moment" I kind of internally scream (or externally, Papa Bean can definitely attest to some external screaming...) Because, like, yes of course I always cherish my children, but sometimes this parenting gig is not all that cherishable.

And we already know this from all our other relationships - from our family and friends and spouses. I always love my husband, but I don't always feel it. When PB is being sweet and handsome, my love-y feelings for him are very immediate and present and right there, at the surface of my smiling face. But when I'm tired and out of resources or patience and I'm annoyed with him, oi, those bad feelings can really cloud over my decision to love him.

But I do think it's different with children, the effect is maybe more pronounced, because my relationship to them is so much more permanent. As in, there is the possibility within the universe that PB and I could decide not to be spouses anymore (it's a microscopic possibility, don't worry ;) but no matter what, my kids are my kids. So that undercurrent of love, whether surface-immediate or sunken-deep, has a unique constancy.

I hope you're having a bubbly, happy kind of day, but if you're not, if you're having a dig-deep, pull-up kind of day, well... I hope you get to step out soon, and stop hold hold holding, and feel the weightlessness of Love lift your arms, and make carrying your child (physically and metaphorically) easier. Soon.

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