Sunday, November 27, 2011

I might be mellowing

We left the house with Dov folded inside my son’s coat pocket. Just in case we decided to stay late at the kiddush and wanted B.A. to take a nap in his stroller. He won’t fall asleep without that bear.

After the kiddush, we decided to take the kids to the park. “Do we have the notorious D-O-V?” I murmured to my husband. I didn’t want to mention his name in case B.A. started asking for him. My husband confirmed that Dov was still on board.

Dov, only cleaner and less chewed-on
The kids played on the slides while my husband and I chatted with my father-in-law, who is visiting from the States. B.A.’s naptime came and went, and I decided to finally pull him away from the park and leave the girls with their father and grandfather. I took the stroller and the diaper bag, my husband took the bag with snacks and jackets, and I headed home with my boy.

The elevator was broken, and B.A. gave up walking after a couple of flights. We live on the seventh floor. That kid is heavy.

B.A. was getting really sleepy at this point and he was forming his plans for our return home. “Drink a bottle milk snuggle Dov,” he informed me. When we got through the top and I’d gone back down and up for the stroller, I rummaged through the stroller and bag and realized, yes, my husband had taken Dov.

* * *

In times of stress, I like to reach for a soothing mantra. “I…will…kill…him” is perhaps not the most enlightened one, but it’s usually the first that springs to mind.

* * *

What could I tell B.A.? Dov will be home soon? He’s two-and-a-half. I cooed and empathized and then I went to the far end of the apartment and shut all the doors between us. He screamed for almost an hour before he finally fell asleep for a short nap.

And while he was screaming, I was thinking, “This is unbearable.” And I imagined how my husband would come home and I would tell him, “He sobbed for an hour.” And my husband would make a sympathetic face and say, “But he eventually fell asleep, right?”

* * *

I lived and breathed my daughters’ special loveys (they go by Dog and Cow around here). We always traveled with them, and I knew their whereabouts at all times. When the girls started tossing them out of the cribs and crying, we clipped them on to the crib rails (the loveys, not our children). Even at four-and-a-half, A.N. and Y.B. won’t sleep well if their friends are in the laundry.

So when my B.A. started favoring a fuzzy donkey doll my mother gave him, I put it under the same maternal protection. Then B.A. chucked, it out of his stroller one day, and none of us noticed until we got home.

Actually, A.N. noticed, but she didn’t report on it until we noticed the donkey was gone. “I…will…kill…her,” I breathed.

I cried mournfully.

That’s right, I was the one crying, not B.A. How would my baby ever go to sleep again? What a nightmare.

“You know what?” my husband said, “He’ll get over it.”

And he did. B.A. switched his allegiance to Dov. Then briefly to a pair of sock monkeys that he liked clipped together in a chain gang. Then there were a crazy couple of weeks where he insisted on sleeping with the monkeys AND Dov, until my husband put his foot down and disappeared the monkeys.

* * *

And as B.A. kept screaming, I thought of Jenny and of my other friends with large families. Would they be worrying so much about a nap spent without a beloved teddy bear? Probably not—there’s too much else going on.

I remember that when my girls started solid food, I gave them a blessing that they should always have a positive and uncomplicated relationship with eating. I took their pictures: first rice cereal; first time with Abba feeding them; first time with Poppy feeding them. Not to mention all the time I spent picking the right high chair, the best bibs, the perfect spoons, bowls etc.

I don’t remember anything about B.A. starting solids—how old he was, what he ate, anything. I was too busy chasing after twin toddlers.

When my daughters were babies, I read books on child development, child-rearing memoirs and parenting magazines.

Now, I read novels, the New Yorker and blogs—some about parenting, most not.

* * *

Some people lament that each subsequent child in a family gets less attention, but I think it’s a relief. The all-consuming  . . . what’s a nice word for obsession? Well, that intensity that characterized my early parenting, it was special. It forged my confidence and my values. But I took myself, and my children, and everything about parenting, way too seriously. I’m glad that my parenting is mellowing. I still worry about Dov’s whereabouts, but I know he’s not irreplaceable, and that my kids are pretty resilient. 


diana said...

this is like me allowing my 18 month old to eat lollipops just cuz the older ones are, right? my 1st 2 didn't even know what candy was until they were like 3!!!

bayle said...

i can so easily relate to this (turning back half an hour into a trip to visit family because we forgot the blanket) but mostly my kids had their very attached thumbs, which caused more worry later. it's harder to hide or 'lose' a thumb.

At this point in your mothering/wife career I would, however, heartily recommend that you lose the mantra. It's not politically correct. It is not lost on your little ears, and you will cringe when you one day hear them repeat it. A slow and drawn out OHHHHH Myyyyyyyy gooooodddnessssssssssssssssssss can accomplish much the same effect.
I miss you!

sina @ the kosher spoon said...

i remember faithfully reading every chapter of what to expect the first year, with my first daughter, celebrating all the milestones, planning mini photo shoots to capture her at every stage.... my poor son, I have not read one page of the book, i just let go and wait until each stage comes and goes...
there's just too much to do, it took me a little while to mellow and stop comparing how much I gave one vs the other.

that's how you have 6, 8, 12, 22...children, that is.

Chaya said...

Don't worry, Rebbetzin, I'm just being silly. I don't really chant "I will kill him." It is still the first thing that pops into my head, but I don't let it sit there. said...

thanks for making me laugh out loud this morning,

"In times of stress, I like to reach for a soothing mantra. “I…will…kill…him” is perhaps not the most enlightened one, but it’s usually the first that springs to mind."

chaya you are the BEST!!!

Zsófi said...

Im pretty new on your blog but alredy love it! Your mantra is the best, i have the same. Ok, I say it in Hungrian :D
Miriam Yehudis

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