Saturday, October 31, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Among many things, my lola lived through the Japanese occupation of the Philippine countryside. I remember her recalling how she witnessed the stomach of pregnant woman in her village suffer the rage of soldier's bayonet.
My lola's daughter (my mom) to this day will only speak of high school beauty pageants and dances. But my (dearly departed) father would sometimes talk excitedly about living through the war as a young boy not yet in his teens. His eyes would widen as he recounted how he was sometimes forced to hold his breath underwater for long periods of time and used reeds as make-shift snorkels in order avoid capture.
I cannot even begin to imagine living through those times. The years of sleep-deprivation. The atrocities of exploding vomit and poop. The massacre of peas, mushed but uneaten. The torture endured on watching yet another In the Night Garden episode. These are the struggles I have faced. Although the exhaustion, helplessness, frustration and boredom I've felt are very real to me, these as well as the guilt and feelings of inadequacy that sometimes overwhelm me do not compare to having lived through a war.
And so as I reminisce about the old stories told by my father and lola and as this (Canadian) Thanksgiving long weekend comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the things I am grateful for. There really is so much. Too many to write down here. So I've kept my list brief:
The Good Man
You've taken your fair share of raising the boys and, certainly, of dealing with the night time and early morning wake-ups. I love you for that and, on a more selfish level, I love the way you often lie on my side of the bed on cold nights, warming it for me before I climb in beside you. Thank you.
Little Dude and LittleR Dude
Mommy was 39 and 41 when she had you but, still, you were born with 2 eyes, 2 arms and 2 legs and no physical abnormalities. Good genes, a healthy lifestyle, my avoidance of the dentist (and consequently, x-rays) stacked the deck in our favour, yes. But not all mommies, some much, much younger than I was, were so lucky.
I'm so grateful that I have the three of you in my life and that my daily struggles are not those involving life and death, as did my lola and father.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Little Dude was playing nearby and with real concern in his voice, he exclaimed, "Don't worry, mommy. I'll kiss it better." He did.
This brought a smile to my face but did not relieve the pain. I muffled the expletives screaming in my head as I tried, unsuccessfully, to get up. I must have sounded like a wounded puppy.
"Don't worry, mommy. You'll feel better soon," Little Dude encouraged and patted me on my head.
Good god! Is this the same boy who initiates the torture tag games that usually ends with his younger brother or both of them in tears? I couldn't help but feel proud.
Eager for more evidence that my first-born has, in fact, learned how to sympathize and give comfort, I faked a cry of pain.
Little Dude walked back to his toy. "You need to be more careful, mommy," he suggested.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Although I was not shy about expressing my opinions about projects openly and passionately, I worked hard to remain composed and not appear hyper-sensitive or negative. I remember turning to my coworkers one day, apologizing for complaining so much. They turned to each other and laughed. They hadn't heard a peep from me all morning. I had been having unpleasant conversations in my head while typing away at the computer.
However, I do recall one occasion when my emotional fortress collapsed. The day I failed to hide the intense sense of betrayal and disappointment I felt on hearing about a change in the makeup of my team. I no longer remember the details of why the news affected me so much but what I will never forget is feeling my face flush as they made the announcement and walking out of the room in the middle of the meeting, not so much in anger, but to hide the tears that eventually fell when I got in my car. I was gone for several hours and considered resigning that day, not only to escape my work environment, but to avoid the repercussions of having let such a profound outburst escape.
It's funny now (as a stay-at-home mom) that I seem to have dropped my inhibitions about exposing my anxieties, fears and flaws. The emotions that I tried to hide and repress in the corporate world are now in full display. On the Internet, of all places. Today, I feel no shame in admitting the immense guilt that cuts through me on seeing my toddler deal with separation anxiety. Nor in telling you that I have cried about it. It's liberating!
Have I become soft in motherhood or just more forgiving of public displays of emotions and weaknesses?
I don't know. Perhaps, I've simply come to understand that to be a mother is to accept that there will be days when I will feel weak and, yes, cry. And, that there really is no shame in that.
This morning I dropped the boys off a half hour later than usual hoping to avoid the hand-off traffic at the nursery school. Hoping to find the other children in the room more settled. Hoping to catch one of the teachers free to give LittleR Dude some one-on-one attention. I had a doctor's appointment to get to. I needed this morning's goodbye to be less traumatic.
We arrived in the middle of snack time. I sat LittleR Dude next to Teacher J. I used different words this time. I told him I was "going to work," a little white lie that he accepts happily when I leave him with the Good Man for a few hours.
His lower lip jutted out. Tears flowed. But the hysterics did not come. I left promptly. Later, Teacher J informed me that the tears disappeared seconds after I left.
Everyone was right. It does get easier with time. I did not cry, today.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
After receiving several comments to my last post, it seemed clear that what LittleR Dude and I are feeling is normal. We just have to get through it. It will eventually get easier.
I felt empowered with that knowledge walking into the school this morning. Thank you to all the moms who responded. I feel lucky to be part of such a supportive network of women.
This morning, seeing the look of abandonment in LittleR Dude's teary eyes did not reduce me to tears. I was ready for it this time. But still, here I sit again wondering if the heartache is worth it. Wondering if keeping him home for another year is the better option, making it easier for us both.
Tonight I will talk to the Good Man again. Reread my last post's comments. Perhaps, persevere for another week or two. And hope that the guilty feelings and heaviness in my heart subside.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
His face is still etched in my mind. Hysterical and tearful. A lot like what I'm feeling at the moment. His arms reached out for me as one of his teachers carried him away.
I can hear her trying to interest him in doing a puzzle on the floor now. Another child has started to wail. LittleR Dude is still upset but is sobbing more quietly.
I wanted to walk back in the room and carry him away with me. Sorry. Changed my mind. Little Dude can stay. LittleR Dude is mine.
This did not happen, of course. Another teacher saw me outside the door and gave me a short pep talk. I left and went to Starbucks. But breakfast and a latte did not provide much comfort.
I wondered if LittleR Dude was ready for nursery school. I wondered if having the boys there 2 mornings a week made any sense.
My insides churned all morning. I tried to rethink through the reasons why I needed occasional childcare. To have time to myself. Time to do chores. The boys are young for only a short while. Surely, I can wait for another year or two until ...
The first day of nursery school went so well. I had psyched myself up for a tearful goodbye then. Unlike his older brother, LittleR Dude did not take to new people and new situations as easily. I was ready for the resistance that never came that first day.
LittleR Dude barely took notice of my absence when I dropped them off 3 weeks ago. I spent that morning doing some much needed vacuuming and mopping. It felt surprisingly exhilarating to be doing housework without my boys underfoot. And the smiles and hugs that greeted me when I picked them up warmed my heart.
I was not prepared for the emotions that overwhelmed me this morning. I returned to the daycare a half an hour early. To observe. To think out loud. To chat.
I found LittleR Dude filling a bucket with sand. He seemed content. I waved at him when he looked up. He waved back but continued playing.
They showed me a video of him jumping around with the other children during a song at Circle Time. They said he had a great day. I think they sensed I wanted to pull LittleR Dude out of nursery school.
It comforted me to see the video. To hear that he eventually settled and had fun. Tears began to flow again. Mostly out of relief, I think.
This morning I was reminded of why I blog: to express, to share, to vent, to celebrate, to think, to cry and, sometimes, perhaps even to know that I am not alone in my experiences and thoughts.
I know I haven't been a good blogger lately but would love to hear some advice/wisdom on handling separation issues with a two-year-old.