As much as I enjoy putting a lighter twist on the trials of motherhood, I’m sure it’s obvious that some of my woeful rants have a sliver of painful truth. This week, I continue to be ignored by my uninterested one year old. I could do cartwheels for the kid, and I’d still be treated to his blank (wobbly) stare.
But today, a colleague has given me a new perspective, a metaphorical slap that’s somewhat taken me out of my self-pitying doldrums.
The more boring I am as his primary care giver, the more my son is accepting me as part of his life. I am not interesting, because I am not new. I am not an arrival at the end of the day. I am not a grandparent who pops in weekly for a surprise cuddle. I am constant. When he was a baby, the smile I got first thing in the morning was code for “oh wow! you still exist, and you’ve appeared here in front of me! It’s a miracle!” Now, I get a wail and arms outstretched which roughly translated means “Where on earth have you been you neglectful mother? Pick me up!” He knew I was there, somewhere, because I am always there. He trusts in my existence. He has no need to thank me or reward me for feeding him, changing him, playing with him, entertaining him, because in his head, where else would I be? What else would I be doing?
I have always had mixed feelings about the ‘Cry it out’ sleep training technique, which basically suggests that if you let your baby cry, they will eventually give up and go to sleep. Apparently, this technique is not supposed to be tried on babies under 6 months. When done anyway, their brain patterns mirror the patterns of abandoned babies who are neglected and abused. A baby that young simply cannot understand that you are ever coming back.
My baby however, has reached the grand age of One. A milestone indeed. And his blatant boredom in my presence, regardless of how long he hasnt seen me in, be it hours or the whole day, is a clear sign that he is certain that I am there. Somewhere. Whether he can see me or not, I am a constant part of his world. In many ways, I am his world.
If he was still overjoyed at my spending time with him, that would mean he still worries I might not be there at some point, or has not accepted me as a constant in his life.
I know, this is why motherhood can often be a thankless task, and why even while we’re so glad that our other halves have good relationships with their children, there is a part of us that is ever so slightly green-eyed. But even while it’s frustrating, I wouldnt swap it for the world, because it means that my son feels secure and safe in knowing that I’m not going anywhere. How can this be anything other than a success story?