Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tale of the twisted ankle (or how all hell broke loose)

So, for reasons unbeknown to even me, I've been putting off blogging lately (although you just know I'm going to ponder the whys and wherefores right here, right now, don't you?).  Ah, well, I could say it's down to spraining my ankle and having to play the invalid at my parents' place for two weeks.  I could say it's down to moving house right before Christmas.  Or to Christmas itself, and to feeling unjolly.  I could put it down to virtually anything else that life with a capital L has thrown my way lately.  But I'd be lying.  Because when I really want to write -- or really, really want to do anything -- I always find a way.  I guess I'm annoyingly headstrong and impulsive that way.  Mr Green nods affirmatively.  But really, it most likely boils down to this:  on the days when I enjoy LGO's antics, I'm too busy nuzzling up to his soft baby loveliness, or just nuzzling up to the idea of motherhood in general. And conversely (of course you just knew there would be a conversely, didn't you?), on the days that are most 'grining', I wind up face to face with the laptop-cum-therapist.  Loathe as I am to use this space as a free-range b*tch session, I do sense a pattern emerging, and I don't like it one bit.

But now that I'm here, now that I'm conscious of it, I'll see what I can do.  Readers of this blog have previously told me that what they most appreciate, other than the exquisite writing (ha!), is that the blog pokes fun at the most trying aspects of birthing and raising a child in this day and age.  It's not easy.  What is, you say?  Ironically, writers I also admire tend to do this -- i.e. smile through kicked-in teeth.  It's a huge compliment to me to know that I'm succeeding, against all odds, to elicit some laughter through what has often been a very black (with occasionally pink lining) cloud of a year for me.  I don't know that the experience is as hard for other mothers.  It would be vain and foolish to think it's remotely easier for others.  I know the socio-economic gods are shining down on me as we speak, so I won't mock them to assert such a thing.  But I just wonder why, the minute my cup is half empty, do I not remember how good and how quenching the first half tasted. 

Case in point.  Mr Green and I gallavanted into the mountains for several blissful nights in late November, not having a care in the world. Not having to think about anything or anyone but each other.  No time constraints.  No holds barred.  It truly was blissful, and for that I'm grateful.  But it seems an eternity ago.  Sand through the hourglass and all that.

Fast-forward a few weeks later.  The sprained ankle was silly and a drag, and I'm too embarrassed to go into the whys and wherefores here.  Suffice to say, I swallowed what's left of my puny little pride and stayed with my parents till I could comfortably hobble around again.  Needless to say it was a sobering reminder of just how dependent your dependant is on you when they cannot yet walk.  A sobering reminder, too, of just how easily a fit young (ok on both counts: moderately fit and even more moderately young) adult can become a dependent dependant all over again, in the twist of an ankle. 

Then we moved into a house of our own, the second big move for the Greens in under a year.  The move went like clockwork, tick, tock, but that did little to diminish the stress of it all.  Stress that LGO surely must have ingested in some shape or other.  The strangeness of the new place disrupted his routine in a major way, as we suspected it would.  He woke an average of half a dozen times a night during the first week.  It brought back those early awful months before he managed to sleep through.  Understanding his need for security, I rocked him for ages and did everything the books tell you not to in normal conditions.  I let him use me to fall asleep.  Now that we're more or less settled, he has been more or less happy.  And he has made a couple developmental leaps recently that we're inordinately proud of.  First off, he has learned to give kisses -- hilarious, open-mouthed kisses -- on command.  Reserved not just to mommy and daddy but to family and favourite teddies.  Not total strangers.  That wouldn't be so good.  Seconds:  another little one of my 'tests' involving animal recognition.  LGO has a wooden puzzle with jungle animals on it.  When I empty the puzzle and scatter the pieces on the floor, then request either the 'elephant' or the 'crocodile' or the 'giraffe', you guessed it, my little wonder supplies the right wooden piece with no more than vocal prompting.  I'm sure whether this feat is impressive for his age, but nonetheless, the pickings are slim when at nearly 15 months old, he isn't talking or walking.  And his mother, dumb moo, isn't beyond caring and comparing.

But for all his wonderment, of course there are some off days, today being one of them.  I know I should chalk it up to an off day.  We all have them.  True, but his tend to rub off into mine.  How, how, how you ask does such a little man exert such a big ass influence over my moods?  Last time I checked I was a grown up, for Peter's sake.  Why then can't I remain chipper and upbeat in the face of the Griner??  Why must I crumble, recoiling, hardening into granite, instead of softening into the malleable, motherly thing that he craves?  I want to be loving and patient, and all the things you associate with blessed motherhood.  But the grining...  Oh, the grining, it gets me every time.  It is sustained and unlike any other sound I've heard from another infant...  The incomparable way it drags its talons down the back of my skull.  When the Griner does his thing, I just want to retreat as far away as possible, and the feelings I have at such times are far from loving.  Then, in direct response, guilt bubbles to the surface.  How can my only child ever, even for a moment, be anything other than loveable to me?  Does that mean my love for him is conditional?  Does that mean I am evil to the core?  These questions plague me to the point of insanity sometimes.  Because I know how I would answer them.  I want to do what's right by him.  I want not to care or worry about what he is or isn't doing.  About the fact that he is lagging behind developmentally.  I want my love to be such that nothing else matters. Not even his behaviour when it galls me, when it grates against my skull.  I want to hate the sin, not the sinner.  And the grining is trivial; it's only the beginning of possible sins, I know it is.  And while we're at it, here's another question for you:  How unconditionally should you love your child?  Or two:  Can you still love him when he does unspeakable things?  I love Little Green One, but I admit openly and honestly, I sometimes find it hard to like him very much.  In spite of myself, I compare him to others and sometimes he comes up short.  I feel so guilty I could puke.  There, now you know why I didn't want to blog.  Sometimes words are too ugly to be turned into a punchline.