Screw Batman; Send Robin.
I had a meltdown around Christmas. I choose my words carefully. I didn’t get a little upset things weren’t perfect and throw a hissy fit. We’re talking complete, total, full-on meltdown climaxing with me telling my one year old (yes, really) if he hated me that much he can return his Christmas presents, thrusting him into the arms of the grandma he much prefers then running out of the room into the front yard where it was both dark and 25 degrees and screaming until three elderly neighbors turned on their living room lights and my furry coat hood stuck to my face with the snot running out my nose. If there was a Bat signal for Shady Pines, one of the old folks probably would have turned it on. I was in Trouble.
This was nuclear-level mommy meltdown. I had HAD it. I was DONE. This was for a few reasons, but the most glaringly obvious and painful was that my son is going through a phase where he just doesn’t like me very much. There are a few logical reasons for this, most notable amongst them that since my abdominal issues have gotten worse I can’t pick him up and play with him. Also, he’s one. He throws a tantrum when he gets peach puffs and not sweet potato puffs. But let me tell you, logic has nothing to do with the Mommy Meltdown. It is complete and total pain. That’s all it is. Lest you need reminding, not only did I want this child so much I got this child, I wanted this child so much I involved a fingerprinter, a social worker, two state agencies, a lawyer, a judge, more money than I make in a year and a midnight trip to Walmart three days before Christmas. Mac and I really, REALLY wanted this child. But right now the baby doesn’t want me very much. He thinks the sun shines out of his father’s ass (which makes waking up next to him a real fucking joy) and he thinks Grandma is pretty great. We recently returned from Canada and he thinks Grandma and Grandpa Canuck are pretty awesome. His cousin the Dude is fun. In fact, my son likes everybody that comes into contact with him. Except me. Hence, the complete meltdown.
So, mid-meltdown I realize I can’t stay out front forever. My parents live in a retirement community and I’m not kidding about the lights coming on. This was the most action Shady Pines has seen since they decided hanging beach towels on your deck rail was “unsightly” and the Towelers fought the non-Towlers on the grounds of being stodgy old party poopers (yes, that happened). I was crying, screaming, cursing, crying some more, ugly crying, hyperventilating-crying, and wondering how the hell I was going to spend 17 years raising a kid who screams every time I try to talk to him. It was like starting parenthood with a teenager who poops his pants. God, the level of anger and hurt I felt was overwhelming and massive and unbelievable. I’ve had some epic breakups in my time, some honest Guinness world record holders. But I have never felt as rejected as I have the last few months. He doesn’t get that I CAN’T throw him in the air. I CAN’T pick him up and hold him for an hour or two. I CAN’T put him in his carseat. It has been medically impossible. And he will never, ever know it hurts me more than it hurts him. It hurts me more than anybody has ever hurt.
So I crawl back into my parents’ enclosed porch, because my snot is, and you know how I feel about using this word inappropriately, literally freezing into the fur on my coat hood. My eyes have swollen into puffy little slits. My father knows I’m out there, but good timing or abject fear, doesn’t matter which, has kept him from coming out. Finally my sister Robin and the Dude arrive. Robin sends the Dude inside (“Where’s the baby? I wanna play with the baby! He loves me!”) and asks what happened. To her credit, she doesn’t laugh. Instead, she tells me the story of our Good Friends. Miss Good is 5. When she was 16 months old, she went through a phase where she hated Mr. Good Friend. Seriously, like yelled at him “NO!” every time he tried to interact with him. OK, I think, that’s pretty reassuring. Mr. Good Friend is up for several prestigous parenting awards I just made up, including Most Invested in Raising a Liberal and Compassionate Child and Healthy Diet Without Being Snobby About It. He’s a really Good Dad. She acted this way? She LOVES him now!
Robin tells me to get in her car. We go to the grocery store, and she buys me some really gross treats, including Ho-Hos that were set to expire that week. Have you ever has a Hostess cake less than a year before it’s set to expire? No. I didn’t think they existed. They do. And they are ungodly.
Then we went back. I went inside the house. I tried to wash my face, and we had dinner, which was chili with cinnamon rolls and if that confuses you then you’re not Nebraskan, more’s the pity for you.
There are plenty of signs Baby can tolerate my presence. I’m trying hard to see them. I’ve also gotten the big, ugly cry out of the way for awhile, which feels good. Most of all, this was a good lesson that I don’t need Batman, Superman, Spiderman or any of those other childless, freewheeling, testosterone driven “heroes.” The next time my world is falling apart, send Robin. Robin has a kid. She gets it.