Friday, August 31, 2012

independence: you crave it, and then you don't

In many ways, this has been our big summer of independence for us. Sure, I've been more with Lilly than I was this spring. What with my healing journey and taking time off from work to be with her. Time we've spent mostly at the pool or at the beach. In the glorious sun and heat we've been blessed with this year.

But she turned four this summer in June. And she had her very first sleepover at a friend's house while Leighton and I celebrated our five year wedding anniversary in July, going out on our very first full date night out ever, all previous "date nights" having been arranged early in the evening with her at a play date, meaning we'd pick her up and put her to bed after our date (read: anticlimactic). And she hosted a sleepover for that same friend later on. And she spent three nights with grandpa and grandma while Leighton and I got our very first couple's only vacation, on which we had a blast, by the way.

So she turned 4. And she wanted goggles for her birthday. It was a Friday. It was an overcast weekend. The sun returned that Monday, so we resumed our afternoons at the pool: first thing there, she dove under water. She'd been wanting to do that for so long! Her jumping grew steadily more adventuresome. Soon she was jumping far out, swimming 8 feet and more doggy style, scooping up pool water with her arms as if it were ice cream, to get back to the edge of the pool.

By August, she joined the big kids at the diving board. Jumping and jumping, oh so gleefully, her mama (ME!) cheering her on with the true and amazed and triumphant joy and glee of someone high on stunned pride.

Then came the swimming across the pool diagonally at its 50 feet. Seriously! After no swimming lessons whatsoever.

And then there was me and then Leighton leaving her alone at home at the house a few times for short whiles upon her insistence as we did a few quick errands post-pool and in prep-dinner mode, her watching a DVD, which she gets to do when she has "behaved well" that day (we don't have TV but have typically let her watch a (pedagogical, mind you) kids DVD a day post nap if she "did well" that day and napped. Well, now that I basically said "let's be done with nap and have fun at the pool instead," it's turned into "you get a DVD while I make dinner" sort of thing, "if you 'behaved well' today"). And then there is also how intense the constant self-chronicling can be and how at the end of the day you just really need a break from it all. And then there are those days where you reach for the DVD in moments of dire parenting emergency; when you really need a break from the kid who can't be blamed for needing a break herself or something else big and crucial came up.

And there's more. The explosion in her writing. In her language. In her climbing up and down all those crazy scary things for the big kids at the playground, in fact falling down one time the other day on her way down, when she was already almost all the way down and so had become lazily absentminded, thinking herself already almost down on the ground, "so why focus." And so when she was no more concentrating, she fell and hurt herself.

And then the trooper that she was thereafter. crying in my lap before leaving me for a quiet corner in the park to finish off her crying there (which really, truly, extremely so much hurt and ached my heart. I just so wanted to hold and comfort her). But then there she is again: yet again acting like a big girl, as if big girls have to just take care of their wounds and sorrows all by themselves, which really they don't, and nor do big mamas, so why is this a new thing of hers? It just aches me.

But then the sentiment seems true, like she just wants to be done with it so she can move on; because there she goes, back onto the horse again. Climbing and jumping and diving, done with her cry and fear.

So big. So huge!

And yet every day, throughout the day, she tells me (in Norwegian still, thankfully): "I need you, mama." — "I need you too," I reply. Because it is true. Truly and powerfully viscerally so. At one point or another she'll typically join Leighton and I in our bed at night and at one point or another it will typically be too much for either him or me. Usually he'll leave before I have the chance. Last night for the first time, I left too, after him. The climbing-on-top-of-my-body-to-apparantly-get-back-into-it just got way too exasperating. So Leighton and I spent the chunk of the night in her bed the two of us with her in ours by herself. How interesting.

Then there are those nights where she's safe and sound asleep in her bed and I go to bed before Leighton and yet I can't bear the thought of her alone in her room, him out there in the living room and me alone here in our bedroom, so I'll go in to her and lie next to her.

And I'm wondering if maybe it won't rather be me and not her that will be the one who'll be having the hardest time this next plus week or so while I'm in Norway to do all my sex and disability research; feminist porn book promotion; film festival presentations and so forth — if maybe she might just be so excited to be back in school; to have her papa all to herself at night; to have her grandma come for a visit -- that I will just be an afterthought? Something she'll occasionally reach for at night, but then there's also papa's body; a body she'll also gladly attempt to crowd and apparently also try to enter, from what I gather from Leighton's reports.

I know. A mama is not replaceable. But a mama is also not the be-all and end-all. And nor should she be. I don't want me to be that.

And yet it's hard when I feel I'm not. When I used to be the world to her. And she in so many most ways still is to me.

Crazy feeling. That's motherhood in a nutshell to me. Crazy feeling with love and yearning to be with her, and yearning to be and do just me.
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