I was surprised how emotional I was about the day and the party, how sensitive I was. My mother tends to be on the bossy side when we’re around people. She kept telling me to leave my son alone and let him do things on his own. When Gavin was tearing into his cake, he wouldn’t taste it unless it was from my fingers. So I tried to use his fingers to dig in like mine and feed it to him. Mom just kept saying, ‘leave him alone, if you’d go away he’d get it.” It really pissed me off. She also tends to talk me down or tease my parenting to others as well. I walked into the kitchen while she was talking about how I’ve got two layers of curtains over our windows so his room is dark. She thinks that is silly and that kids should be able to sleep anywhere any time. These are things I’m used to hearing. These are things that usually don’t bother me. It’s been super easy for me to tell people to butt out or just ignore them. I know what’s best for my son. But on his first birthday, it’s obvious that he is getting bigger and needs me less. I still feel a little like his day is mine.
My husband was in a strange mood as well. He didn’t notice any of this. He didn’t notice that I was upset or sad. He was even agitated and kind of temperamental. It’s not common for him to be finicky, and I wondered briefly if he was emotional too. Nope. He was hangry. It was just me feeling like my little baby boy is growing away instead of just up. I looked around at my husband and family and thought about how no one there really notices anything. And I don’t tell them anything. And I felt just a little alone.
Last night, I went to buy some hair dye. Women tend to take psychological angst out on their hair after all. I asked for advice, then took it back starting to see more clearly the way I lean on everyone except my family. When I got home, my little man was crying. He had woken up briefly but quickly went back to sleep. I poured myself a glass of wine and he woke up again. This time, I went up to snuggle him. He was hot. For the first time in his little life, he had a fever. It was a very high fever and we left for the emergency room. My husband was hot and sweaty, running around, forgetting things and speeding down the road, zipping through cars. I soothed him and supported him, reassured him that it would be fine. It wasn’t until he and my son were safe at home and sleeping until I realized that I was scared. Lying wide awake in bed beside my husband, I take comfort not from my family. I cry without waking him. I don’t lean on them, they lean on me. And that’s the way I want it. I want them to think of me as a rock. But I’m not, and once in a while, I wish that they noticed.
When I was little, it was always that way. My mother was the manic panic. She put herself in, far over her head and I was the calm one. She fell apart and I put her back together. I remember walking into to her office one night at one in the morning as she was arranging an awards banquet for a church kids group. It’s a huge undertaking that I have no part in whatsoever. Yet, I walk in as she’s nervously rattling off all the things that she needs to do flitting around the room and handing me lists. I look at her and say in my tss voice, “Let’s take it one thing at a time. It’ll all get done because we are the type of people who get shit done.”
With my Mom, I am together. I am organized and calm. Not so with you, I am a mess. I run to you for way too much, depend on you for things I should handle. You are the rock on which I crumble. And worst of all, I think you do it best. I think that your brand of calm, your soothing, your advice is all I need. You would notice and you would know. You would pick up each piece and put them back together. But I’ve got to learn to lean on me. Just like I’ve got to find a way to be my Dad’s hug to myself, because someday my Dad won’t be able to hug me. Someday, you may not be able to notice or know. And I’ve got to learn to lean on me and put myself back together.