A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: affection

Forms of Love

I feel like this will be a rushed post…partly because I’m overdue. I’d been hoping for ten day increments, but it seems like two weeks is more realistic these days, and even that’s a stretch sometimes. I’ve had to scale back the effort with my posts or else I’d never publish anything. I’d always focused on my content as a priority, and the pictures and hyperlinks were more a gold standard of excessive effort I’ve chased. It seems I’m mostly returning to strictly content, which makes me a bit sad…maybe a bit like I’m failing in some respect. But, that’s my shtick. I’m sure I’m overreacting as a singular force to create weakness where they don’t exist. At least I’m funny…to myself. BUT, I can say after three years of at least a minimum low grade struggle that things are looking up in important ways, like there is some movement out of a rutted cycle. I’m afraid to think it, but can’t stop myself from a deep core hope.

Warrior Queen is two now, and Mr. Man is four. Little Man’s development isn’t quite so awe inducing these days. He’s a gregarious soul, and these days he “feeds me” rain clouds, sunshine, and tornadoes. It all originated from a nothing mall outing…just like so many of the others. A vacant rectangular folding table draped in black cloth and a single chair, my son and I pretending that he is a vendor while Warrior Queen gallops around as she does best. My huge, shoddy pantomimes with strangers eyeing me strangely…unless they have small children of their own. In the latter case, they laugh. Mr. Man sells me televisions and cookies and chocolate…enormous televisions that I almost break a hip pretending to carry. My son is delighted; my daughter spinning around only pausing briefly to smile at me with her open mouth, full teeth baring lips. I’m not sure how it transformed, but suddenly there was a joke about weather. The next moment I’m swallowing storms with thunder rumbling in my belly that he pretended to hear, and lightening out of my mouth in excitable sparks. The sunshine dries it up, so that I don’t burst from all the rain consuming my insides. The tornado manifested so that I could sweep him up into my arms, squeezing him tightly and spinning him around. As of this morning the rain was no longer appealing. He wanted endless funneled winds of me hoisting him from the back of the sofa, and Warrior Queen stopped her dancing to ask for tornadoes of her own.

The past year has been shifting collections of savoring what I can, and imposed self-care at every opportunity. Some of it leaving a combined bitter taste and elation. Through all of this there have been “the grandpas.” Another mall memory. It’s a collection of elderly veterans who mall walk at approximately the same time every morning. They are quite passionate about my children, and one gentleman is quite passionate about my rack. He’s polite enough, but I assume holds a strong preference for well endowed women…which I am. He rarely misses an opportunity to hover his eyes on my chest. The leader of the group prompts me to warm smiles. I doubt he’s ever heard anything any of us has said, but I remember a cool morning sometime after the presidential election and subsequent inauguration aftermath. Since that time, it’s been uncomfortable. MPOTUS is a horrible, hateful man; and he holds the nation’s highest office. As a minority, albeit hidden beneath a White surface, I worry…always. I haven’t had to worry like this since I was a youth. It’s reasonable to say I didn’t miss this feeling. It’s an oppressive weight that I’m not really safe; that it’s obvious I don’t belong. It was a harsh reminder of where I grew up and never returned. Perhaps not as terrible as the reality of so many others, but it was terrible for me. But, one morning I hear this man yelling to his friends in heated discussion I only half caught, “I DON’T CARE; YOU DON’T VOTE FOR A WHITE NATIONALIST!” His voice boomed in the mostly empty food court. Since that day I’ve sought to visit him and his friends…a silent appreciation for his existence. He’ll probably never know the impact of his words; I doubt he remembers. To him it was a nothing conversation with his friends, unremarkable in the course of outings with peers. But, I remember, and I likely always will. And, now Little Man specifically requests to see “the grandpas.”

Seeing the interactions between all of these beings generated another idea. When things are hard, I lean into something that allows me to step away from myself. I also look for ways to consume my kids in some kind of activity, preferably for free. Sometime this month my kids and I will be volunteering at an assisted living. Mr. Man likes to talk to anyone anytime about anything. I’m not sure what Warrior Queen will do…probably stare down everyone around her from her small state and say, “thank you,” although she’s been more chatty to strangers as of late. Originally I just planned to bring the kids to visit seniors, but I think it’s morphed into me reading something from our collection of books each week. That’s an added bonus. I love reading children’s books to an audience. It never occurred to me that it would be an elderly population. I had resigned myself to the thought that I would wait to volunteer as a reader in a school classroom when the kids were older. I enjoy when hopes materialize before I planned.

I’m stunned by the passage of time as a whole. I wouldn’t say things have passed in a blink, rather in such a short span the kids can do so much, particularly Warrior Queen. A few months ago she snuggled me in certain way before bedtime. For a bit she no longer wanted snuggles, opting to spin herself dizzy and fall to the ground. Her language continues to develop. She returned to her nightly snuggle with me in a rocking chair, but now she wants me to cradle her so she can look me in the eye. She’s always appreciated my singing more or less…it comes in waves. These days she requests songs that she can sing along to…sort of. She’s on key, but doesn’t really know the words. The words she knows often mispronounced. But, that smile of hers, and the look of adoration on her face. I hope I always remember it.

The routine before nap time is a bit different. Little Man insists on singing his sister two lullabies that inevitably turn to three or four. On cue he walks himself back to his own room, waiting relatively patiently for his own tuck-in. Warrior Queen turns in my lap quietly so that her cheek will press directly to the skin on my chest. She stretches her arms around my shoulders, clutching whatever shirt I’m wearing while we rock. Eventually she’ll utter, “I sleepy,” and it’s in the crib she goes. Oddly it often coincides with when I begin to hear Little Man shouts, “Mommy, tuck me in!” He’s half asleep when I reach his closet door, the small inner room that houses his mattress. He enjoyed his toddler bed for a week, and since that brief excitement over the transformation of his crib, has opted for his very own man cave. He always asks for an extra, “hug, kiss, snuggle, squeeze, and smooch.” I almost always acquiesce. He knows it’s my downfall.

Warrior Queen knows my passion for snuggles as well. These days if I’m still, she insists on laying with me or sitting on me. Often resting her head somewhere on my person…cheek to cheek…my thigh. Sometimes she sits on me as I’m laying on the sofa, otherwise ignoring me entirely. Periodically she’ll look back to me saying, “snuggle,” which I oblige. Her snuggle routine is for hugs and tickling kisses on her cheek and neck. She has a delightful laugh, and the only consistent way I bring it forth is from the speckling of light kisses to her sensitive skin.

Both of my children are older. I hope they will always be this loving. I hope the elderly we visit will feel their warmth as I do. The world has a shortness of uninhibited love sometimes, and I wonder why. It’s the first profound thing I noticed about my children…love. As humans we seem to be distinctly born with the intense capacity for it, yet it fades. So strange that something that saturates babies washes away in seemingly easy fragility. Maybe because it hurts so intensely even when it’s good. I think the pinnacle of my hope for my children and their lives is that I raise them to persevere through the hurt because nothing else feels quite like home.

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Pillow Talk

Something my three-year-old little man requests that is among my favorite things in this world: snuggling in our bed. Usually when he asks it’s not a good time, and some type of avoidance strategy…like sleepy time or something of a similar sort. But, this morning I’d just showered; Warrior Queen was still asleep; I was tickled to have him knock on our bedroom door asking for a snuggle in our bed. I lay down, and he insists on tucking me in…making sure I’m warm, then burrows into me.

Funny thing is that I’m not a particularly cuddly person…like to comedic proportions. But, that needed to stop bringing children into this world. My general presence is aloof, standoffish, and intimidating. It comes in handy working with at-risk and incarcerated populations…and as a manager. Everything is about a time and place. I’m an exceptional disciplinarian, so it’s paramount I’m able to balance my brusque immediacy with snuggles and Mommy lovin’. I have an unscientific ratio: for every one negative interaction, I try to communicate three positive ones. Mostly I’m successful, if for no other reason than I’m paying attention to when my kids do something lovely. Other than my son reaching the age of threenager, he’s a sweet and loving child. I like to think I’m doing something right.

My often harsh demeanor receiving requests for snuggles makes even the most heinous tantrum and oppressive guilt evaporate into the hazy early summer atmosphere. I don’t think there is adequate vocabulary to describe the sensation washing over me as my son rests his head on some portion of my upper anatomy…never able to squeeze quite close enough to me. Even if he is harboring a fugitive in his diaper with a smell that allows me to push off waxing my facial hair for the near future, I’ll hold him tighter. He won’t always ask these moments of me…probably sooner than I want to admit.

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(Even The Telegraph seagull looks dubious of Little Man’s diaper findingssavvy bird.)

Sometimes he’ll snuggle for ten minutes in a clip, sometimes have me read to him. But, sometimes they are quick, jerky stretches like this morning when he leaps from my marriage bed to retrieve his Minnie and Mickey stuffed animals. He carts them in tandem, but expressed overt preference for the former. My husband or I have to tuck her in every night. But, this morning he scampers down the hall subsequently returning with full arms…the stuffed animals are at least half his expansive height. Naturally, his heinously diseased dog mushed among the plush mice. I watch as my husband’s child removes the top of the two pillows because my husband does not sleep on it, and organizes his friends on the designated sleeping pillow. Shaking laughs erupt in spilling tears knowing the queasingly grotesque doggie is sprawled where my husband lies, and in moments he will discover it exiting the restroom. Sure, I could have instructed my son to move him, but such things are a losing battle in our house; Mr. Man insists in caring for all who mean the most to him…Besides, often that horrible dog is on my side of the bed. My husband is obligated to take one for the plague exposed team. Had I foreseen such events, I’m sure we would have managed it in our ketubah or marriage vows…just in case.

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(Neatorama agrees nothing tops such a toy resting peacefully on your pillow.)

Little Man was oblivious to my behaviors, concerned only for his friends as he climbs the bed to adequately cover all three with sheets. Satisfied all of us are warm, my son completes the remaining pieces of his typical bedtime routine, which includes the reprimands I give him nightly for dragging his feet through the teeth brushing/changing transition and haunting outside our bedroom door for entirely too late into the night.

My son is a good sleeper, but goes through waves of having difficulty settling at night. It’s likely because I allow him to sleep too long for his nap, but since I’ve been starting his naps earlier, the evenings have been a bit smoother. Last night, however, it was a long nap that started much too late. I suppose I’ve never sweated such things, as Mr. Man almost never sleeps past seven regardless of when he is finally down for the count. These days, however, I’m lucky to squeeze in exercise before both kids are up by six-thirty.

Amused I’m watching him turn on the light because he prefers a low lit desk lamp at night. He reiterates the conversations I have with him during his tuck in and room exit. He enters and exists the room repeatedly, closing the door gently. It’s all so familiar, but decidedly less amusing when it’s my turn. I’ve learned to love a “snuggle, hug, kiss, and smooch” as much as the next Mommy, but at some point, the kid needs to go to sleep.

Kiss the Girl

Warrior Queen is my co-piolet this evening, playing in her bouncy seat while my husband and Mr. Man play hide-and-seek with a side helping of chase. My son is exuberantly laughing in the other room, and the joy on his face compensates for the tantrum earlier prompted by a truncated nap. My daughter is joyous as well, kicking her toys over the edge of the plastic top of her surrounding ring; subsequently peering over.

In the last couple days she’s grown with the capacity for spontaneous affection, which can only mean one thing: baby kisses. It’s been a long time, but I’ve missed their grotesque wonder. Holding her, I raise her belly to my lips for a faux raspberry over her shirt. She rewards me with her wide, beaming smile before diving in to eat my face.

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(FantasyStock knows this is the last thing you see before you feel your face coated in a massive circumference of wet.)

Little Man’s were few and far between, but Warrior Queen provided several before her brother distracted her. It was an unceremonious end with toddler pleas to set the baby aside; Little Man wanted belly tickles too. He reciprocated with his special brand of affection, and some things are never too sweet.

Terms of Affection

My son and I have a game these days.  I ask him where his belly is; with huge smiles he lifts up his shirt and points to or pats his belly.  When finished he runs up to me, lifts my shirt and pats mine.  Often he pokes my belly button, but sometimes my growing belly gets a hug.  Little Man doesn’t necessarily understand what is happening, but he notices a change, and I think he senses there is something special about it.  The depth of what he suspects, but cannot fully understand drives him to take initiative approaching my increasing girth randomly throughout the day; gently patting and hugging it before resting his chin on me and looking up with a beaming smile.

He is actually quite sweet with younger children, albeit the younger children that surround him are not all that much of a divide from his birthday.  With his friend who is a month younger, I was surprised that they interact and play together; I always assumed exclusive parallel play at their age, but with these two, not the case.  I could watch them all day.  This friend of his can be rough; his pats bordering on excited aggression capable of leaving longer term welts, but my son rolls with the less than pleasant experiences without a notice.

Then there is the sweet little girl who is three months his junior.  She is only starting to walk, but endlessly enjoyed chasing my little man, and Little Man enjoys being chased.  It was obvious she was not the deft mover as he quite yet, so he would travel a short distance, stop, turn, and wait for his companion to gain some ground before charging off again.

Time will tell how my son will tolerate his baby sister.  He and I are very close, so sharing me might cause an issue.  But, I think to some of his sweet, touching moments with his peers or the ones when he exhibits patience and tolerance, and can’t help but feel excited anticipation with their future interactions.  My son is such a tender, loving soul.  It will do him good to expand his unconditional world just as his father and I have.

Red Rover, Red Rover, Come Hug Me All Over

Yet, another thing that probably makes me a terrible person.  Many times when my son is upset, not on the verge of a full blown meltdown, but losing his patience and generally feeling as though I am not properly tending to him in the moment, I will sit on the floor in front of him trying one of my various distraction techniques.  He’ll remain stationary for a moment fussing before limping along to me in needy pleads.  He doesn’t hug quite yet, but he will stand up and fall on me, almost gripping whatever part of me is in his reach.  I hold him, which usually does little to satisfy him, but I hold off completely meeting his needs because I love the feeling of him climbing on me in desperate bodily gestures.  Only moments pass before I embrace him in the way that is sure to calm, but I do love the rising climax…

Not all of his pre-contemplative hug gestures are as dramatic.  Sometimes he is silly or in an unspecified jovial frame of mind, and in need of cuddles.  I greedily absorb every minute of his fumbling movements toward me and his tentative climbs to a standing position, gripping my shoulders, falling into me.

I love it the most when I’m standing, and he burrows his head into my legs, arms outstretched and grabbing.  Then, he will look up at me, chin grazing my legs with an adoring look that he must model after me because how can he simply know that expression?  It’s at this moment when I feel that piece of myself traveling independently of my person with moments of connecting flow.

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