Photo: Ursa Major… some 18 months ago. I realized this morning that my little bear is now taller than my kitchen table. There is beauty, inspiration, joy, and just a touch of cruelty, in watching a child grow.
When Ursa Major was a little itty bitty thing, I used to sleep with him on my chest at night time. I’d attach him to the boob, sleep flat on my back put my hand on his back (to monitor breathing and to keep him secure) and we’d both sleep. It was the only way that I could share the bed with the baby without Husband freaking out, and it was the only way that I could guarantee that I would get a full night’s sleep. Little did I know that those were the few moments that I could guarantee a cuddle with my independent little man.
As soon as Ursa Major could crawl confidently, he was out of my lap and into the world. Why settle for the lap of a fat black woman when there is an entire planet out there to see, taste, touch and hear? He wouldn’t totally squirm away for the usual cuddle or the necessary breastfeeding (though he dropped that at about 8 months when I became pregnant with Ursa Minor), but for the most part, he was into something and out of my reach.
I never had a problem with Ursa Major being so independent. It allowed me to get a lot done, actually. As long as he could hear me or see me, I was able to do laundry, the dishes, vacuum, email… I was super woman! All the while, I felt good that I had created a confident young man, ready to navigate all that life had to offer him.
So when Ursa Minor found the greatest place in the world to be my lap, well, you could say that I was a bit surprised. The Husband might as well have left the umbilical cord attached. Little dude finds nowhere else in the world more comfortable than my ample lap. Before the lap, it was the breasts–he would marathon feed… just stay for hours… And he breast fed for fourteen months. More importantly, he didn’t really want to play, he wanted to be…with me.
We’ve been able to detach a bit, but the truth of the matter is, if I am nearby, Ursa Minor wants to have physical contact with me. If I’m in the kitchen cooking, he’s on the kitchen floor, rolling around a truck, either under my feet or very close to me. He’s been known to lay on his stomach, his hands busy with toys, his feet in constant contact with my legs or feet while I’m chopping or flipping or stirring. Heaven help us all if I have to walk to the fridge or change the channel of the television. He will screech and then scoot to follow me! If we’re in the living room and I’m writing an email in my favorite chair (dubbed “the throne”), he’s pushing my computer and demanding to be in my lap. If I’m sitting on the floor, he’s nuzzling up and finding himself in my lap (usually after face planting into the boobs… to which I’m like “dude, those have nothing for you”).
Usually, Ursa Minor’s constant need of physical attention isn’t terribly disruptive. I’ve figured out a way to keep the world turning, even if I’m cuddling an 18 month-old. Furthermore, it goes unnoticed by Ursa Major, who is usually grateful to have his brother out of his face. He’s never been jealous of my cuddly time with his brother. My lap has never interested him.
Until this week.
Suddenly, Ursa Major wants tickles, too. And hugs and kisses. And rocking in the lap. And cuddle time under the blanket. And nibbles on toes. If Ursa Minor gets it, Ursa Major wants it. And if Ursa Major doesn’t get it, the he’s a pouty sad mess in the corner.
I didn’t really pick up what was happening until Monday. Ursa Minor left my lap for something and his big brother seized the opportunity to crawl right in. He gave me a big hug, chocking me, really, and jumped on my lap for a good 10 minutes until I pushed him off. You see, unlike his brother, when Ursa Major is on my lap, he’s moving. He needs to be jumping, which hurts. He needs to be chocking me, which hurts. Or he needs to be pushing me, which…hurts. Ursa Major doesn’t want to cuddle. Ursa Major wants to play and I’m the toy. It’s fine when he wants to do this to his father, because his father is built for that sort of thing. But I’m kinda a wimp. So I put up with it for about 10 minutes and then I’m done. Ursa Minor comes back to my lap, sits down quietly, heaves a contented sigh, and watches TV. He wants to be in my lap… not play.
Ursa Major is two, so he doesn’t really get the nuance. Being my son, however, he has a seemingly heightened sense of justice and fairness. It took me a minute to realize what the image must look like to Ursa Major–I play no favorites. indeed, when Ursa Minor is occupying my lap, my mind inevitably goes to the 15 things I could be getting done at that moment–but my eldest son sees “Mommy plays with him more than she plays with me.” So when he was sulking around this morning while I had his brother wrapped up in blankets in my lap, it took me a long, long time to get him to join us. I got the other blanket, put down some pillows, and slowly coaxed him into watching Thomas with us.
Which then, of course, put Ursa Minor out of sorts. Now he no longer wants his blanket.
I have no idea what to do about this. I was really worried, when I was pregnant with Ursa Minor, that we’d have a lot of jealousy issues. Everyone told me that Ursa Major was going to have a huge issue with having another baby in the house–that’ he’d have a problem sharing me. We were so pleasantly surprised when we brought our newborn home and his big brother was perfectly fine with it. Patient during the crying, quiet during the sleeping, curious during the feeding, never ever whiny or jealous during that time. So I guess I’m wondering why we’re so needy now? I wonder if it is a manifestation of anxiety during his adjustment to preschool? But then again, we’ve been doing this for a few weeks now, and he has no problem saying goodbye to me when I drop him off…
One thing that has been happening is that Ursa Major’s favorite new sentence is “I want to do it all by myself.” He wants to get into and out of the car by himself. He wants to get into the crib for naptiime all by himself. He wants to buckle, unbuckle, open, close… he wants to expand the skills of navigation… all by himself. And I’ve been indulging him. I wonder if the pushing of boundaries and expansion of horizons is actually a scary thing for him? Maybe he is looking for familiar warmth as he pushes into uncharted waters?
Maybe… or maybe he’s decided that I’m just another toy that he doesn’t feel like sharing with his little brother?
Either way, I’m sad to be in the middle of it. I don’t want him to think that I prefer his brother to him. I can’t totally detach from Ursa Minor–he’s still a baby…he wouldn’t understand. So I’m sort of trapped, here. I’ll have to try to strike a careful balance–something that makes sense for all three of us. We’re all going to have to learn to share.
Tomorrow is a big day in the house odyssey. We’re supposed to get our commitment letter from the bank tomorrow. We locked into a rate today so that way if the government can’t pull out this debt ceiling deal, we’ll still be safe. Because our contractor missed his deadline, there is a possibility that we won’t get this letter tomorrow, which will delay work on the septic and thus will delay closing. I won’t know until tomorrow afternoon if this is all going to work out. Then, of course, we have a week to wait until we close. Everyone says that closing is a wild and crazy ride. We are cautiously optimistic–but then again, this has been such a ridiculous journey that I can only count on more twists and turns between now and next Friday.
and remember, once the papers are signed, the work begins.
Happy Wednesday, ya’ll. It is only down hill from here. 🙂