Honest Parenting

Honest Parenting

09/Aug/2007

I’m writing this as one child is in the swing and the other repeats, “I’m hungray I’m hungaray” to the TV. I just wanted to preface this because, as you know, I am by no means the best mother in the world and you should take absolutely-f’in-everything I say with a grain of salt. ‘mmMK?

I’ve been pretty open about how difficult my transition to motherhood was. I had a hard time connecting with LB. She was colicky, she screamed 6 to 8 hours a day and slept, if we were lucky, 2 hours at a time for nine months. It wasn’t the image I had in mind and was even a little bitter at other moms for not telling me how shitty being a mom was. They would say things like, “I love my child so much I would die for him.” I thought, “I’m already dead and if I’m not, kill me now. This blows.” I would lie in the bathroom on the floor and cry because my marriage, the person I loved going in to this whole deal, the one I wanted to make babies with, was sucking the life out of me. The baby ruined my marriage. My life would never be good again, this baby sucked.

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That’s how my story went for about five months.

Then things got better. I started to understand why parents would glow about their kids. I loved her. I actually DID love her! It was a long time before I cried happy tears and said I loved my life but it happened. And then I got all sappy because she was my daughter and I couldn’t imagine loving another child as much as I loved her.

Until I had Baby O.

I mentioned that I connected with him so much earlier. I felt that I understood him even as he was still growing legs and arms. I already looked forward to meeting him when, during my first pregnancy, I had no concept of what was coming. To me, my first pregnancy was a “condition”. My second pregnancy, I was growing a person. I grew a real human and I understood what that meant and the toothless grins and even sleepless nights that awaited me. I was thrilled with the expectations, even if I wasn’t thrilled of how my body felt.

Once I had Baby O and I was allowed to hold him in the NICU, I connected to him on a much deeper level much earlier. We did kangaroo care every day in the hospital and I continued it for weeks after we got home. I didn’t mind getting up with him. He was alive! He was here! He was breathing on his own! I was just to thankful he could wake me up and I could see he was breathing that I didn’t care how tired I was. I was in love. I was giddy and in love from the moment I met him. It was the fairytale I heard other mothers speak of that I never understood before. I realized I was literally, as Anne Lamott once said in Operating Instruction, “Fucked unto the lord” should anything ever happen to him.

Weeks have gone by and there’s been a natural progression in the family. Mr. Flinger tends to care for LB when he’s home and I take Baby O. We each bathe our designated child. We each read to our designated child. We each tend to rush to our designated child’s aid when he/she needs us. It’s not that we love one over the other, it’s that, maybe, we connected with one when he/she was a baby and we still feel the pull of that connection?

I know what this would sound like if it wasn’t me who was trying to (not eloquently enough) say it.  It would sound like I love my son more. And I don’t. Of course I don’t. I just feel a deeper connection with him right now. LB tires me. She challenges me. She’s hard. She’s busy. I get so frustrated with her that I sometimes grit my teeth and ask my friends if they’d like another toddler. Baby O smiles more than she did as a baby. He snuggles me while LB never was a snuggler. He cuddles in to my body and relaxes like I’m the only thing in the world he needs to be at peace. LB never did that, even as an infant. She’s fiery, independent, and spunky. She’s too much like me. Baby O is his father. He sits back and watches. He’s relaxed. He grins and listens. And I fell in love with my husband for a reason. I fell in love with him because I needed that balance, I needed the relaxed, happy, easy-going contradiction to my A-D-D self. We compliment each other nicely.

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So I find myself wondering how long sparks are going to fly between LB and myself. How long will I favor one over the other even as I fight to not do so. I wonder if we’re destined to live up to the “mama’s boy” and “daddy’s little girl” stereotypes. It saddens me, honestly, that I already lost the connection when LB was a newborn that Mr. Flinger was able to make. I made up for it by connecting with my son but will I forever lose that chance with my daughter? She’s still young. There is still time for us to have mommy and daughter outings and make a connection. I know we will go through transitions and phases and sometimes I will be the one she needs to talk to about tampons and boys. But I also never want her to lose that connection with her Dad. I want her to go to him, too.

I just wish she wouldn’t push my buttons so much. Or I wish I knew how to not let her.

Feel free to tell me you connected to one child more than the other. That it’s not insane or bad to feel a little tension at times, even in phases, with each child. That this comes and goes and eventually Baby O will be running after Daddy to play catch and LB and I will be sitting at the book store reading together sipping our tea. Because that’s what’s going to happen, right? It will play out that way, right? Because one day Baby O will be two. And when that day comes, LB will be almost five. I can beat you money I’ll re-read this entry and laugh.

Right?

Comments

  1. Not the parent of an independent human yet, so can’t really weigh in on that sense but I think it is TOTALLY normal to connect with one child over another.  We’re all just people, right?  You connect with some people better than others no matter what, and I don’t think shared DNA is enough to change that.  As long as you love them both as much as possible, which it is amazingly clear that you do, I don’t see how their could ever be a problem.

    By YSP on 2007 08 09

  2. I love hearing your story because it is so SO much like mine. It makes me feel like less of a freak for feeling rage and hatred at my kid for almost 5 months.

    Anywhoo!

    My mom and I never clicked as well as me and my dad did. My mom obviously favors my brother, to this day - I’ve always known that. It’s kind of a family joke. And it doesn’t bother me, because I’ve totally got my daddy on my side. I think it’s normal. As long as you’re not neurotic or abusive about it, or tell LB, “Why can’t you be more like O? I love O so much more than you.” Or something mean like that.

    It really took until I got married (to some extent) and then having my own baby (to a much greater extent) that I started really feeling a deep bond with my mom.

    The most important thing for your kids, anyway, is for them to witness your overarching love for Bob. THAT is what creates healthy, heart-nourished kiddos.

    So…I think you are doing a fantastic job! smile

    By Laura on 2007 08 09

  3. I’m going through the exact same thing. Orion and Calix just have a deeper bond than he and I do. Love the kid as much as I do, he mostly drives me crazy..while on the other hand, Maddox just wants to snuggle up with his mommy and give her goofy gummy grins. I’m trying my best to give them equal attention what with the daddy portion gone until next year..but I just feel more connected with Maddox..like you do with baby O.

      I think it might just be a 2nd baby thing and not that you truly prefer one over the other. I think it’s easier to hand the older one off to the husband who’s well seasoned at this point..especially now that she’s older, ya know? It’s like.. you guys go off and do *things* while me and the baby sit here and snuggle. Because please..after 2 kids, you’re so tired..all you want to do is curl up and just love all over this tiny bundle of squish and gums.

    You’re normal. She does love you and she does need you. She’ll always need her mommy..and though teenage years may be rough, ya’ll will have a bond that’s out of control. It took me years to become great friends with my own mother..and now, I feel so sad that it just didn’t happen earlier on. Just be patient.  smile

    By Abby on 2007 08 09

  4. I just have the one kiddo, but I can totally see how it would happen that you connect more with one child.

    By Damselfly on 2007 08 09

  5. Right right and right !
    So it’s interesting: I had DD and then DS just like you BUT I connected much faster with DD. I think mainly because she was such a needy baby: always wanted to be carried around, wouldn’t sleep much either. I was lucky I did not have PPD…
    My son was just like yours: happy sleepy baby. I went back to work after both kids so did not really have time to bond with DS, it took at least 18 months to feel a bond a strong as with his sister.
    But NOW, I feel so much closer to him. Our personalities match better.
    BUT I know that eventhough DD gives me a hard time, we have a really strong connection (some days it’s really deep down !). She got a lot better though….after kindergarten…hum hum

    By Mimi in Houston on 2007 08 09

  6. My 3 yo daughter is wired just like my husband, which is so opposite my personality.  My son is much calmer and laid back.  Right now she’s the assertive one telling me what to do and he’s the snuggly one in my arms, so for now, he’s easier to connect to.  My mom and I are very close and I hope for that same kind of bond to develop over time with my daughter. She needs a lot of physical activity (like Daddy), so for now thery connect better.
    I’m not an expert, but it seems like this will shift back and forth and hopefully create a good balance overall.

    By AmyM on 2007 08 09

  7. I have had 8 kids, all different in their own way… and yes, I have loved all of them in a different way I believe…. I bonded with the boys better, I sometimes hated my girls…. especially as teenagers…. but now that they are all adults…we get on fine… sometimes they all piss me off!!!  but I love each and every one of them just the same at the end of the day!  When a kid is so like youself, it is even harder to bond with them for some reason, but that does not mean you don’t love them any less.  I really really believe you are totally ‘normal’ so don’t worry yourself about how you think you should feel…. just do your best for both of them.  As I am sure you are doing.

    By Chris H on 2007 08 09

  8. I don’t know anything about the “Daddy’s girl” thing because we have two boys but I do know that I had many reservations with my second child. I think a lot more than my first. I was oblivious as to what the hell was happening the first time. I wasn’t a babysitter growing up, sure I dealt with my cousins and brother but only because I had to. After I had Baby A my life flipped upside down, I feel a connection to him that I was afraid wouldn’t be there. The down side is I feel like I’ve lost that connection with S. He goes to his Dad (probably because Baby A takes up so much of my time) and usually I’m okay with that but other times I just feel like I’ve lost him. Baby A needs me ALL THE TIME and I want to be there for him but one day I hope that he too will go to his Daddy and that S will come back to me. Over time I feel the tables will turn and changes will occur, they happened many times over the first 6 years of S’s life. I just need to wait it out. I would assume that all children go through these stages and phases so in the end, yes LB with come to you and Baby O will go to his Daddy. It just takes time.

    I love this entry!

    By SJSFalter on 2007 08 10

  9. I have a boy (9) and a girl (5), and I have experienced exactly what you’ve written about here. Even when our kids fight, my husband “sides” with my daughter and I with my son. I love them both tons, but I also have a deeper connection with my son.

    Mothers and daughters ... I didn’t have the greatest relationship with my Mom until I was in my 30s. I hope to do things better with my daughter. smile

    By Foxy6 on 2007 08 10

  10. Well, I hate to say it, but I am sometimes feel most connected to my youngest son-Magnuts.  I have a 12 1/2 yo daughter and an 11 yo son, Magnuts just turned 8.  It may be that right after he was born my husband was deployed to Kosovo so I had to do it all by myself.  A newborn, a 4yo and a 3yo are no walk in the park.  The older two started pre-school when the youngest was just 3 months old, so he and I spent a lot of time alone together.  For a long time he slept in a bassinette right next to me…I was a single mom for 2.5 years….Glad I was strong enough to handle it but would never want to do it again.

    I really really really try not to feel this way, more connected to him than my other two.  I love them all wih every fiber of my being…

    By For The Love... on 2007 08 10

  11. I know of other parents who’ve had similar experiences. Sometimes you just connect well with one, even though you love them both dearly.

    I am honored that you cried reading my blog, even if it was fueled by lack of sleep!

    By SaraS-P on 2007 08 10

  12. Reading that entry was like reading something that I had written myself. That’s the exact same thing that was/is going on in our home. I’m glad that I’m not the only one that this has happened too. Makes me feel somewhat normal. smile

    By Ali on 2007 08 10

  13. Okay, I’ve never really admitted this to anyone, I guess in part b/c I didn’t know if it was actually the truth. I had my girls two years apart and then the boy seven years later, so I feel like I forgot many of the feelings I had with the girls when they were babies. But I felt a super-strong connection with the boy that I don’t remember feeling with them. Maybe I did and it’s just faded somewhat from my memory. There, I said it.
    I feel guilty about it.

    By Renee on 2007 08 10

  14. “I’m already dead and if I’m not kill me now”.  Ha ha.  Love that quote.

    What a great post.  I worry about these same things.

    By andi on 2007 08 10

  15. So normal!  Kids have personalities just like adults, and we are naturally inclined to connect more with certain ones.  It doesn’t mean you don’t loveyoru daughter.  It just means you sometimes have to work a little harder to nurture that love, which comes more easily with your son.  I am in love with my youngest child right now.  He is almost two and I can’t get enough of him.  I love my other 3 kids of course, but our relationships are just different, and more challenging at times, and I like falling into the easiness I have with my Monster. 
    Relax! Give yourself a break.  I do.

    By 4andcounting on 2007 08 10

  16. I only have one child (pregnant with #2), but my biggest fear is that I’ll never love the new baby as much as I love Tim. I connect with Tim, like you write about your connection with baby O. I cannot imagine having that same connection with another child.

    By Nadine on 2007 08 10

  17. Hey Flinger:

    I was LB in my mother’s scenario. Only she had my perfect brother first, so figured I’d be easy, too. I lived to torment her. I actually remember, as a child, waiting until we were alone together to behave my absolute worst and finding it amusing when no one believed her because I was angelic for almost everyone else. I connected with my Dad from day one. I feared, respected and adored him. And I was glad my mom was there, but it wasn’t the same.

    Until I got pregnant. Suddenly, I understand my mom and her life in a way that I never bothered to even try to before. I see the world from her point of view and am able to talk with her about things that never occurred to me before. Weirdly, at this point, my Mom is the one I hope to talk to when I call home, my Dad seems so much less relevant. (I know, this isn’t nice).

    So I guess I’m not offering a lot of hope for the immediate future—but in the long run, we have finally found our connection. It just took 33 years. Hang in there.

    By Smayzie on 2007 08 10

  18. Oh how I wish that my 2 yr old girl would stop pushing my buttons from the minute she wakes up, till she finally settles down. It’s as though she thinks that it is the only way that she will get attention.  I do feel very much that I the sparks will never stop flying with my daughter and I and that she will forever be daddy’s girl my son and I will forever be Mommy’s boy. But then on those rare night when daddy is putting her down for bed and she is saying “no…Mommy, wheres Mommy, I Mommy” that I remember that she truly does love me despite her desire to piss me off day in and day out!

    By Veronica on 2007 08 10

  19. I had my boy first and then my girl, but Ryan and I are so much tighter than Rachel and I ever probably will be.  We clicked from the second I layed eyes on him.  Rachel?  Not so much.  I thought at first it was the whole NICU thing but she is now 13 months old and I adore her and would lay my life down with her, but we just don’t have the same bond Ryan and I do.  My husband and my son - never quite clicked, but by God that little girl is his life!  She has been known to climb over my hugs to get to him smile  I think it’s natural for one parent/child to click better than the other.  Could be temprament - Ryan is just like me and Rachel is just like Rob.  Lord knows who #3 is going to be like!!!!

    By andrea on 2007 08 10

  20. OY!

    Hannah was 27 months old when Jacob was born, and I couldn’t stand to be near her. She bothered me in every way possible. Of course I couldn’t admit as much to another living soul for fear I would be strung up by my toes. And I was horrified by my thoughts, because Hannah had always, always been my precious one.

    But I think it is normal.

    Just remember that LB is still such a baby herself. Looking back, I realized I had unrealistic expectations of Hannah. And I will always regret the times I yelled at her for no good reason. I realize that I was just tired and a bit depressed. Jacob was SUCH a difficult baby. He was the one who consumed all my energy and time, and there was little left for Hannah. I took out my frustrations on her without meaning to.

    She is eight now, and we butt heads all the time over trivial little things. I think that once Baby O gets a little older and LB is not all spit and fire and on-the-go all the time, you will find that you are able to make that connection with her.

    It’s never too late, my friend grin

    By Melissa R Garrett on 2007 08 10