BLM (before Little Man), three weeks could pass in the blink of an eye. But these past three weeks feel like years.
I mean that in the best way possible, of course.
As much as you can try and prepare for having a child, there's just no preparation for this. And life with a toddler has made the learning curve a little steeper for us. He rarely crawls at all now that he's found his balance on two feet. We'd have it no other way, but it is strange to think that some people adjust to parenthood with a baby that stays in one place!
It's been wonderful, challenging, happy, frustrating, invigorating, exhausting...I could keep going but I think you get the idea.
The best way to sum up my emotions, is that I feel like I'm in an arranged marriage. (Disclaimer: I've never been in an arranged marriage and what I know of them has been learned through fictional stories and Lifetime movies.) I guess it's more appropriate to say this feels like what I imagine an arranged marriage feels like.
Someone matches you up with a stranger---then one day you are living together. You try to take care of all his needs despite the fact that you don't know one another at all. And you question yourself constantly...are we bonding yet? Does this guy even like me? What does he like to eat? Will we ever be fully comfortable around one another and live in harmony? Do I have to put up with that snoring for the rest of my life?
(Ok. The last one is really about The Man.)
So, after the marriage, after the parties and the celebrations, the real work begins. And so it's been for us too. We got LM home, and for the most part we all seem to be doing OK. I'm thankful that The Man has been off of work for the entire month. That has really helped the transition and made the adjustment easier for all of us. Unfortunately he heads back to work today, so I'm wondering how all this will go when I'm a solo act.
I won't sugar-coat it and say that everything has been perfect. There are plenty of those stories out there. People
We are happy. Most of the time. And we've also had some really tough moments.
For LM, he's sorting out this whole new world. He's usually charming and smiley, but lately he's had more of a quick temper. Smiling one minute. Screaming the next. And no obvious reasons for either. That could be toddler behavior, but something in my gut says it's more. He just seems pissed. He wants to be comforted, but not by me. He wants to be held, only to push away and scream to be put down. And there's the pinching and occasional biting. He's trying to cope with those emotions that he just doesn't know what to do with.
Or perhaps this is his real personality? We just don't know enough about him to understand these things right now. That is a bit scary for me.
As for us, we're doing OK. Tired, for sure. Utterly frustrated and impatient sometimes. But mostly, it's learning to deal with a new life that is based on someone else's needs. I miss my workouts at the gym. My alone time. After-work martinis with friends. I knew those things would take a back seat for a while. But I still miss them.
The hardest part for me right now though, is the constant dialog I have with myself. A litany of questions that I ask myself every day, like some big emotional test.
The obvious one: is LM bonding to us? I just don't know. He smiles when I enter the room. He wants us to hold him (sometimes). He's been giving occasional hugs. And he's been touching gentler. This seems to happen more with me (he was really scratchy and pinchy for the first few weeks, more with me than with The Man). Now he touches my face gently sometimes, or pats me on the back when I'm holding him. Some moments I think, hey, this kid is starting to like me. And that's an awesome feeling.
I probably spend too much time thinking about this stuff. To be honest, it keeps me up sometimes at night. There are days when I feel like a miserable failure and that I need to find a way to connect with him more. So we keep having face-time. Playing lots of touching and interaction games. Trying to squeeze in a snuggle or two during a day, when he'll let me.
But the harder question (and the one that I feel like a bad mother for wondering it): do I love him yet? I mean really love him?
That's a more complicated answer. I feel a little guilty that I'm not one of those "love at first sight" kind of moms. Yes, I was thrilled at first sight; joyed at first sight. But love comes slower for me. It's built in learning his expressions, his habits, what makes him happy, and his quirks. In unexpected hugs. In shy smiles.
That's the same way I fell in love with The Man. Slowly. One day at a time. Then one day, I realized, damn, I really, really love this guy.
And so it seems to be with Little Man. We continue to take it one day at a time. I remind myself that this is a long-term relationship. It's OK to take it slow. Over time, it will grow. A good friend told me, just before we brought LM home, that bonding goes two ways: him to us, but also us to him. How true this is.
LM is taking his time too. He's a bit cautious, just like me. The memories of his foster family are strong, and he holds on to those tightly. I do that too.
I'm glad that LM doesn't just throw his heart out there to anyone who comes along. He's building a relationship with us one day at a time. And learning things like that about him, is what makes me love him a little more each day.