Sunday, January 19, 2014

Unfriended

13 comments:
I promised my husband the next thing I wrote would be light and funny. Could you please write something a bit cheery? he asked.

Yesterday, my daughter, now two years and two months, who still nestles into me for nursing both day and night, who nuzzles my nose and says "You look beautiful in your nightgown, Mommy," who demands that I be the sole interpreter of the narrator's voice in all her picture books, who cries for me in the night, this child held up her hand in protest when I entered the room in which she and her father were at play. Daddy was building a Byzantine structure and they were choosing where to put the elevator or something.

"No MOMMY! Don't speak. It's quiet time! Goodbye!" And with that, she slammed the door. I laughed. I could finish my coffee in peace. It's about time my husband served the sentence of most favored nation status and his crossword puzzles go unattended for a while.

But...

I promised my husband I would write a funny post. It's been two days since Daddy's arms have been the preferred method of transit, Daddy's arms the preferred vehicle in which to dance, Daddy's block building skills the preferred method of construction. As I ponder the chill wind that I can't help feel swirling round me, I think of Dante:
In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wood,
For I had lost the right path. 
That's a real thigh-slapper, I know.

For me, the quote encompasses my daughter's sudden shift in affection. To be sure, she and I still cuddle, and in the last few days it's possible there was an instance in which she needed Mommy more than Daddy to witness a feat like diving off the bed or painting a red line with her watercolor brush. Although I'm not sure that's true.  For two days, she needs Daddy to bear witness to all, and Mommy's input is not only irrelevant but intrusive.

There's something else the quote stirs in me. It refers to "the right path." We've been on the "right path" for so long, my daughter and I. Of course I am as tired as any other parent, as longing for free time and even for time to waste -- especially for time to waste-- but our days have been harmonious. I told my husband today that perhaps I could see it as a result of good mothering, my child's confident rejection of my services, her lack of need to curry favor must somehow mean I am a swell mother who has given her the security to wound me deeply (without meaning to.) I also suspect this is an important act of differentiation from the person she has overlapped with so thoroughly for the length of her whole life.

It also means that her father is a very loving and involved father who builds a mean Byzantine structure and an equally mean fruit smoothie.

Honestly, I am enthralled by her molting the shell we have shared for two years. Maybe I'm rattled not by losing the path my daughter and I have been on since her birth. Maybe I'm scared of carving the path I need to go alone once more.

In the middle of the journey I am in a dark wood. When my child was an infant, we took long, indulgent summertime naps, limbs entwined in a cool room, escaping the heat together. I stared at her silky skin and knew that in the time of my life, I needed to live! (to slightly misquote William Sayoran.) And I did. I smelled her and stroked that cherubic face and exhaled. I did the best I could, but time passes. And thank goodness for that because no one can keep up the work of infant and toddler care forever. We don't have enough resources for that. And besides, we want more. We need to find our old path or our new path, or maybe--a bridge.

We need to find the bridge that connects the two paths. I have no doubt we'll be back on a path together soon enough. But I need a bridgeboth to connect her path and mine and at the same time to distinguish them from each other.

Well, husband dear, are you holding your sides from laughter? Are the tears just rolling down your cheeks? Perhaps, but I suppose not the kind you wanted.

I'll try hard to be funny soon. Maybe for Father's Day?

This time I'll offer instead some inspiration, again, from Dante. He lost the path but after much trial, the wanderer emerges.

E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle.

And so we came forth, and once again beheld the stars.





 Related:
http://hungrylittleanimal.blogspot.com/2014/01/differentiation.html




13 comments:

  1. I LOVE that. So beautiful and insightful. (And funny!) Thanks so much for sharing it with me- I'm curious who my two-year-old will select TONIGHT for bedtime- Mommy or Daddy? :) Stephanie from Mommy, for Real

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  2. Your writing is so poetic and heartfelt. I love it! You are good at the "deep" stuff, we don't mind that this post wasn't light or cheery. It was lovely!

    ~ Valerie

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  3. I thought it was VERY funny - and incredibly witty. And yes, a bridge. That is the perfect description of what occurs as they get older and more independent.

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  4. Totally LOVE, my 8 month old is always super attached to me, and I love it. He goes through phases though where he definitely prefers guy time with Daddy. It's good to have that balance though

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    1. Yes, the Daddy time is really beautiful to see and I try hard not to take it for granted, I know a lot of parents don't have another parent to help.

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  5. This is another beautiful post Leslie. Honestly, I could read them all day long.

    What I love is how you capture in your writing the way I feel for my own babies (but of course you express it so much better than I ever could).

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    1. That means worlds to me, thank you Lisa.

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  6. Lovely posts! My daughter is on the "I want daddy" stage right now, but the 9 year old boy has become the mama's boy this time. They change "preferred parent" every now and then, which is kinda cute. :)

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  7. I little one goes back and forth from mommy to daddy. I was away at a conference for 4 days recently (the first time we have ever really been apart), and he has been in a mommy phase BIG TIME ever since!

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  8. I love poetic writing more than the funny stuff. Beautiful! I could really relate to those naps when you just touch their faces and take it all in.

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    1. I know - the naps. the sleeping faces, the little paws curled around their heads...they look so much like babies still when they sleep!

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