Boring? I’m cool with that.

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?

Dear Abby…

Try not to laugh. My one year old finds me boring.

He is generally thank God, a happy, smiley kid, and many people insist on telling me that I don’t know how lucky I have it. (as if myself an C have nothing to do with his character traits or personality. Hello? At the very least we’re responsible for the genetics. Anyway, another blog.) And it’s true, he is truly a chilled out kid.

But I’m not sure he likes me all that much…

Ridiculous. Absurd. He loves me. I know that. He cuddles me when he wakes up in the night crying. He smiles when I put him in his highchair, (knowing that food is near) and it’s not as if we never have fun together, of course we do. But those times seem to be less often than they once were. I think it wouldnt bother me nearly as much if it was a general phase he was going through with everyone. But he’s never been more happy to see every other member of our family or general acquantaince in our lives. Grins, Giggles, Arms outstretched.. I get it R, you like them more than me today.Same as yesterday. No doubt same as tomorrow.

So I play with you. I sit down, flex my fingers, put my best baby smile on, and begin. Blocks. Lets make a tower! I place one block on top of another, and then a third. You knock it down and look at me. I do it again, and you oblige. A third time, and you leave it standing there, as if to say, Seriously? this is the whole game? Ok R, too easy. Lets try building one instead. I put one solitary block in your hand and another on the floor in front of you. I watch as you place it onto the other, and after a few tries, you manage to successfully construct your first tower. Yay! I clap enthusiastically, but you have no desire to do it again, once is enough and you’re already on to the next step, of eating the project at hand.

Ok. What’s next? I clap and put my arms out to you, and you scramble onto my lap. We look at each other, and I nostalgically remember the days when I could pull a funny face and keep you entertained. Now even old faithful ‘fish face’ gives me only a few seconds of a half smile. All my best contortions of my facial muscles serve to give me nothing but a glimpse into the future, my teenage boy staring at me grumpily, waiting to be dismissed, a look on his face as if to say ‘You seriously dont get me.’

Perhaps I’m being hugely hard on myself. But whatever games I play with you, I cant shake the feeling that you are fantastically bored. That I’m not able to be as boisterous as your dad, or as appealing as your grandparents, or as interesting as another baby. I cant think of the right things to say, or a different song to sing, or an original game to play. I dont think you enjoy spending time with me.

Truthfully R, you’re not that entertaining yourself. You whine a lot, you need more attention than a well trained house pet, and your conversational skills are limited to say the least. I have to admit that this boredom which worries me so much, is something which I feel many times throughout the day myself. I know that’s normal. But that’s part of the package. I knew when I decided to invite you into our family, that it would be a couple years before you became company. It worries me that you were not appraised of the same deal and in terms of entertainment, as your primary care giver, I might be coming up slightly lacking.

So all suggestions gratefully recieved. Winter is a’coming, and play dates are scarce, as all of my fellow mummies appear to be returning to full time work.. Any ideas/groups for keeping a communicationally challenged 1yo entertained much appreciated.. Failing that, words of encouragement that my baby likes as well as loves me would be great..