Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bonding with Motherhood

I called Danielle last week after her post on enjoying motherhood. We talked and talked about our parenting philosophies and ideals. I related to her how difficult it can be to figure out appropriate discipline with our strong-willed, smart (smart!), oldest son. She reminded me of an important realization I had in her very presence. She thought you might like to hear about it. I agreed.

Nearly four years ago I found myself with a tiny, handsome (grown-up looking!), hairy (his head!) little babe. He cried a lot. I cried a lot. I loved him, but I didn't know what I had gotten myself into. For months the colic lasted. He required the most aggressive Irish soft shoe dancing I could possibly do, while bundled up in the tightest burrito imaginable.

It took me months to find my mothering groove. Blaine was nearly one by the time I fancied myself a mother and felt myself connecting well with him.

Blaine's second year was the easy part. Colic gone. Good sleeper. Pleasant, quiet, observant boy. I felt myself loving him evermore.

As Blaine entered the world of having a sibling, turning two, and moving to a new state all at once, he changed. He refused to nap (and I tried everything). He grew sassy. His strong will became known. We butted heads (oh, did we!). Like two years earlier, I felt out of control and at odds with my baby. I started to believe that my current problems with my son were born out of my inability to bond with him in his infancy. I began to picture fighting with him as a teenager and wondered if my struggle during the beginning of his life would take its toll for the rest of it.

And then I had the epiphany of my life. I loved Blaine. I had loved him in my belly and I loved him the minute he was born. We had bonded. We had. It wasn't that I couldn't bond with him at first, it was that I couldn't bond with motherhood.

Ever since realizing that, things have been different between Blaine and me. Sure, we still butt heads. Sure, he was defiant and disobedient and ungrateful today. (And I? I was impatient. To say the least.) But now I never see his bad behavior or our inability to see eye-to-eye as anything but typical parenting challenges. I'm not afraid of seeing Blaine through his teen years anymore. I no longer worry that because I was more ready for a baby when Rog came along, that my relationships with my boys are uneven.

It wasn't him. It was me.

So thank you, dear Blaine, for loving me, and being patient with me, and teaching me how to embrace my life. Consider us bonded.


Sally said...

I really appreciate your persepctive today. I had a similar experience with my oldest, but I still feel at times that our bond isn't the same as with my other two. I don't ever want her to feel like she is loved any less though, because I definitely love her to pieces. I guess it's my attitude that needs to change.

families are forever said...

My comment isn't about bonding, but I have found my easiest babies and toddlers, were my hardest teenagers, and my hardest were my easiest. That surprised me some. Hopefully all yours will be easy!

LJ said...

Mothers of spirited kids, unite! I'm kidding (kind of). But, let's be honest: some kids are easier to raise than others. I've got two really spirited boys (they remind me of your Blaine). And, they put me through the ringer on a daily basis. I have some friends and relatives who have kids that are super mellow and easy going. It's much, much easier to raise these kinds of kids. I was one of those easy kids (according to my mother) and I hoped that I would produce some mini-me's but no such luck!

Anyway, no one ever really tells you that even though you always love your children to pieces, they do come with their own temperaments and those don't always match your own. My husband and I are pretty quiet and laid back, but our boys are super active, talkative and LOUD! I read about 10 parenting books before I realized that my boys are "spirited." Now I'm better equipped to handle their stubbornness and tantrums, but I still have to occasionally pull out my parenting books to remind myself how to keep my two year old in check (you know, so I don't get to the place where I would need Supernanny).

Thanks for this post!

Melissa said...

My first baby was born sweet-tempered, and at 10, she still is. She is physically loving and just melts. She has a great sense of humor too and seems never to be in a bad mood. I worry because I've heard that these can be difficult teens, but I'm enjoying her now. My second baby has pushed against me since the day she was born, figuratively AND literally. My photographer friend was trying to get a sweet pic of my girls and I when my youngest was about 18 months. If you look closely you can see her hand on my neck and the veins in my neck bulging from the strain of her pushing away from me. Good times. She has made me cry more often than I can count, and some days I don't think I'm going to survive her childhood. She just turned 8, and I can see that things are mellowing...a little. I love her because I see so much of myself in her, and I remember how my mom treated me. My goal is to get this little girl through her years at home with the absolute certainty that she is loved. That's what makes me cry on those days when it's bad. It takes a ton of strength and patience, and she has no idea how hard it is for me to keep my cool when she's pushing so hard. I feel Heavenly Father's strength on the hard days, and I know I can't do this without Him. I'm sure that's why I am persevering.

Heather said...

Oh how I'm loving this post and reading the responses! I too, am a mother to 2 boys 21 months apart. They are 2 and 7 months. And did I mention my first is about as "spirited" as they come? He's an awesome little boy & I love him to pieces but oh the energy! And the sheer determination of this boy! He is so smart yet so sweet but homygosh can he test me!!

My second is seemingly more mellow, but I don't know! We'll see ;) Which is fine with me, but seriously we need a support group of some kind. I have prayed so much to be the best mom I can, to be patient & loving and the feeling I have received is to just love him through it.

Some days are survived through gritted teeth, but I can feel Heavenly Father guiding me through this and refining me through this journey called motherhood. And I love it! (even when I want to poke my eyes out) ;)

Rae. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rae. said...

I loved this post. I too am a parent of a rather strong-willed child. I remember loading her sassy buns into the carseat one day, and driving to my parents house IN TEARS to drop her off for a few hours before I KILLED her (Daddy was at work and unavailable free me).
Mind you, she was only about two-and-a-half. How could she possibly have such power?!!
I stomped through their doorway and handed her to my Mom and said, "Here! You take this!"

Her grandparent's frequently remind me that "nobody wants a dullard for a child anyway" to try to comfort me. And that's exactly it: she is so full of life and sass and SMART that I have no doubt this is one incredible child who will grow into one incredible adult. If only I can survive to see it...


Joan said...

Aw, the sweet sweetness of perspective, Anne. Thank you, dear.
It is something I need a regular dose of for sure.
James is as passionate as they come and I have come to recognize the reason we so frequently butt heads is b/c he is ME in male form!?! AHHHHH! Save us all! :) haha.

danielle said...

I'm glad you posted this Anne. Its such a good reminder.

Well said.

plus I'll always have a little soft spot in my heart for Blaine.

love dan-oyo.