I think a lot about “Mommy issues” and the ones that I might be encouraging in Connor, my 2.5-year old and, down the road, Ike, my 4-monther. I’ve heard it said before that it’s impossible for a kid not to grow up with these nagging spots of rust on an otherwise shiny childhood because parenting is difficult and perfect parents akin to unicorns and dragons. But, I have high standards – my aim is to make any “Mommy issues” that my boys may have nondescript ones, like always wanting to keep their fingernails clean never losing track of their Hot Wheels. Grown men deal with those demons all the time, right?
I waddled my way into motherhood with a lot on my shoulders: baggage, chips, and what felt like the weight of the world. When Connor pushed me through the pains of motherbirth and into parenthood I thought I was going to be smothered. I wasn’t whole enough to be responsible for another person. I started to hold tight to anything I could grasp, thinking that controlling whatever I could would help. I practically measured Connor’s feedings out by the dropperful. I kept rigid watch on the clock to make sure he was eating right. on. time. I never veered from the rigid nap time routine I composed, even if I found myself performing it 30 minutes after he woke up from a 2-hour nap because I just needed him to go back to sleep and leave me alone for a few more hours. I would get angry if Zach didn’t know the intricate dance that was Connor’s day by heart, no matter that I was on maternity leave, he was working full time and going to school, and I never told him what we actually did during the day. When I washed dishes I placed every baby bottle component on the drying rack justso so they would dry nicely and without water spots like we had just bought them at the store.
The issues I had with myself were transferred to Connor’s care and I started to get angry and resentful. How could Zach not tell that he was living this carefree, 9-to-5 life (not really) with non-cyber adult friends while I slaved at home, obsessively trolling Facebook for friends I could share my crazy with while trying to mold a human being? Couldn’t he lift a goddamn finger and help me over here?! So he did. He blasted a hole in the cracking dam I had formed around myself and out of me spilled tears, unintelligible gurglings, a gush of words and tangled feelings, and an inordinate amount of slobbery snot and phlegm. It wasn’t pretty, but it was beautiful. The dam had to break to make way for the new flow of feelings motherhood spouted. For once, I cried all night while Connor slept soundly in his crib.
(Some days you feel like Connor, other days you feel like Ike)
When Ike was born I didn’t go through the same thing; Connor gave me my hazing and I was already an initiated member of the Motherhood. Even though I lack time for myself now with two boys in my brood, I’m thankful that that same absence of time means that some of my most lethal issues have starved and withered away. Ignoring our problems isn’t the answer, but taking away their power is a good place to start. These days there is little fodder for any unhealthy obsessions or compulsions (strangely enough, the only time I feel like feeding my Zac Efron jones is when I’m at work). If not caring for the boys, my time is occupied with work and laundry and dishes and picking my way through minefields of toy cars. I do need to pick up a hobby and do things for myself, but there is something to be said to giving yourself so utterly to two someone elses. Connor and Ike may inherit some issues from me, but as long as they’re inherited out of the love I try to give and show them, they can blame me for the rest of their lives.