Sunday, July 09, 2006

Parenting, Part 2


My parents are here, and last night they took the Cracker back with them to their hotel room for his first sleepover. Yes, his first night away from us...ever.

That morning, I had gotten on the 2am-know-it-all-Mommy forum and followed a link to a heartbreaking Caringbridge site. It seems that one family had lost two babies in less than a year to a horrific, incurable genetic disease. Shortly after the death of their son, who if I remember correctly didn't reach his second birthday, they learned that their infant daughter would suffer the same fate. Late last week she too passed away, at just 15 months old.

I read their entire journal, and then the journal of another little boy they referenced, who was just a few months younger than my own Cracker. He died in late June from brain cancer.

The fact that I read these kinds of things that keep me near tears all day long astonishes J. "Why do that to yourself?" I can't explain it. I wish I could just turn my back and forget that such heartbreak exists. But I can't.

While there are many people I love deeply, people I fear losing, there is only one person without whom I'm pretty sure I could not go on: my little Cracker.

This parenting thing is just so hard sometimes. Maybe it's because I'm not religious but take on more of a hippy "the universe" sort of attitude, but the loss of a child, anyone's child, is something that my heart will never understand.

And so all day long I dreaded handing over the Cracker to my parents for the night. There is no one I trust with his life more than them, but it just didn't feel like the best day to not have him close. KWIM?

Really, the motivation behind the whole sleepover was not to get a big break from parenting, just to sleep in. Yes, to awake to absolute silence.

Sad, huh?

J and I often joke about the fact that we can't remember anymore what is must have been like, to wake up late on weekends without any responsibility. This morning, as the Cracker started the day in the capable hands of my own parents, I realized why: we never did.

THE FRIGGIN CATS WOKE US UP. It's all coming back to me now.

Of course, the Cracker had a fabulous time. My mom, who is constantly on the search for cool new toys, pulled the impossible. She gave him a new big rig, a (Union 76) gas guck, which he LOVED. And then after examining the packaging that pictured more from the same series, he told her, "Nana, me need dis (Shell) wellow gas guck too." And she'd already bought it, so out it too came from her magic stash. Amazing how she does that. I just wonder what went through his little head when that one worked.

And because she is much more refreshed than I am, she and my dad came up with the perfect solution to the Cracker's constant desire to bathe his trucks in waber wif bubbles and soap. They took a styrofoam cup, tore off the end, and called it a drive thru truck wash. They even had sound effects. Delightfully simple!

What is wrong with me? I used to have ideas like that too.

So here's my deal, what I'm trying to say, but too tired to say without all the preceding mumbo jumbo: I have mommy guilt. I can't spoil him without spoiling him. We can't have cold pizza for breakfast every morning, even if I am craving it too. You love them so much and want to make them happy every moment of the day, but it's impossible. A lot of the time the answer is no, period. They don't understand why. Then they're aggravated, and eventually you are too, but in the long run it's just what has to be done. But in the back of your mind, you can't help but think that life is sometimes too short, and that you need to enjoy the journey more. If you knew that this was your last day, you'd have pizza dammit. And you'd go to the toy store and wipe out your bank account, skip the nap and party all night long powered by the sugar of chocolate donuts.

Finding the balance is what's hard.

So instead I try to live vicariously through my own parents. They buy the toys; I buy most of the clothes. They take him on the carousel at the mall, while we pass it by. They let him stay up until 1am, while we adhere to a 9pm bedtime.

Even though I hate myself for it, I do get annoyed over the stupidest little things he does. I know his intent is never to upset me in any way, it's just that his way is more fun. And then I see the sadness in his little eyes because he knows what I'm feeling, and then I feel lower than low for making him think that he is anything less than perfect. He is perfect. I am the one who is flawed.

And even though I am so much less fun and I am often disgusted with myself, he still loves me for who I am.

I admire him so much. I hope that someday he knows that.

1 comment:

eipwek said...

Thanks so much for the comment you posted on my blog. I really enjoyed reading it, as well as what you've written here. I love reading passages that let me travel inside the minds of young mommies, since I'm not one yet but would love to be one soon! Your Cracker sounds like a totally adorable little feller. Seems to me like he has been blessed with an awesome momma and daddy as well as with wonderful grandparents!!