Doing my part for the therapists

            I have grown accustomed to feeling I am letting Zachary down.  He needs so much, and I have only so much to give.  I lose my patience with him, hurry him, and just generally am imperfect.

            But, I have never before felt like I am letting Benjamin down.  He seems to need me so much less than his brother does.  He is easier (OK, not physically), marginally less intense, and pretty happy as long as he is given a constant stream of calories.

            And then there was Tuesday.  I had been away for the weekend, and both boys missed me, which was a bit of a surprise since neither seems to care when I drop them off at school, sometimes not even turning around when they say goodbye.  And our nanny started full-time last week.  I had hoped to ease into her caring for the boys, but I came back to appointments, parties to plan, and more suggested revisions from my agent.  My due date is not getting any further away, and I need to keep things moving along.  I needed sustained work time.  Uninterrupted work time.

            Instead, I had a nanny who didn’t know what she was doing yet, children who had missed me, and workmen continually tromping through my house.  Zachary took it in relatively good graces, as he has always taken my need to work.  He seems to get a commitment to anything involving focused thinking, and when he is jealous, it is of another child – namely, the child who sleeps on the bottom bunk.

            Benjamin, however, was less than pleased that Mommy returned on Sunday only to hand him over to a nanny all day Monday.  While I was on the phone with my agent, he got so upset I had to tell her I’d call her back.  And on Tuesday, he needed me.  All day long.  In the afternoon, whenever I tried to work, he busted into the room crying for me.  But, I need to get the f-cking book done, and it ain’t going to happen while I am sitting at the playground.

            When I checked in on the boys later that night, I kissed his sleeping face.  “I’m sorry I let you down today, baby.”  It was the first time, but it will not be the last.  I am sad and I am sorry, but I also accept it as part of raising children.  We cannot be all they want and all we have to be all of the time.  It just is not possible.

            Besides, if mothers never let down their children, think how boring psychoanalysis would be. 

16 responses to “Doing my part for the therapists

  1. It’s hard to make them independent, to watch them both crave it and hate it at the same time. You feel like all the struggle with those feelings is your fault and something you should be protecting them from.

    I still have this with my daughter, who at 19 doesn’t want to need me or care what I think, but can’t help herself on either count.

    I hope the new nanny works out well and quickly!

  2. Amen to that, Emily.

    I think you are a pretty good Mom simply for your realization.

  3. You are right, psychoanalysis would be boring – and our kids wouldn’t actually ever grow up & that is important to me.

  4. You are so right that parents can’t be all that kids want all the time. It’s a hard lesson for parents and kids to learn. It’s been hard for me to learn (from both directions). I’m still learning how to set my limits as a parent.

    And yeah, we have to ensure that the therapists of the future have plenty to work with. I’m sure I’ll do my part.

  5. You’re so right in all of this. No one can be all things to anyone else that way – not even for a child.

  6. So painful to feel that way. And irritating. Sometimes, I admit, it gets me a bit angry. Because if I’m everything to everyone else, what does that leave me for me?

  7. I feel like I could have written that post, though not so well. My dear Calvin is so needy that I fail him daily, but only lately, Hobbes has started to need me too, in his own way. I have had to completely stop dropping him off at the church nursery, holding him through the service instead. I don’t dare to get on the computer when he is around. And I am getting nothing done. Thankfully, I don’t have a book to write or much of anything that other people are depending on my getting done outside of the home right now.

    I think the hardest thing about motherhood for me has been dealing with my inability to hold it all together for everyone all of the time. It is so hard to give oneself grace.

    You are doing a great job.

  8. I feel that way about Diminutive One ALL the time, but it has more to do with ineptitude than time.

    They forgive. I’m banking on that.

  9. My goodness…. I tell myself that all the time. It’s impossible to be all they want — but that they will survive. But with me there’s also that divorce guilt… “If I was still with their Dad everything would be perfect! Sunshine and Roses!”

    Therapists need to work too, and I figure I’m just doing my part!

  10. Mmm-hmm. And the other thing that I have to remind myself of on a regular basis is that the kids are not going to LIKE everything that happens.

  11. I hope your nanny works out well and that she gets into her groove soon. It probably won’t take long.

    He will adjust, and he’ll adjust to the new baby, too. Hang in there.

  12. will i sound too harsh if i say that i think it’s actually GOOD for kids to see — sometimes — their parents occupied with activities that do not revolve around the kids?

  13. I so often realize I’m letting Monkey down. It evokes the guilt and it often spirals from there. I try to take that step back, like you said, and realize we can’t be everything to our children all the time. But it doesn’t make me any less hard on myself.

  14. It’s okay to do this. You are helping your boys prepare for life where people are not available for them at every moment of the day. If Benjamin learns this with you, who loves him (and he knows that or else he wouldn’t make any fuss at all – the extent of the fuss Benjamin is making indicates the level of security he feels with you in a fundamental way) then he will be stronger in himself as he heads out into his life. He’s adjusting, it’s never pretty, but all will be very well. He really must learn to see you as a person in your own right with your own needs and desires – it will be much better for his development in the long term. And boy, do you need a break and some well-deserved peaceful time.

  15. “I’m sorry I let you down today, baby.” I have whispered those words to my own daughter many a time. No matter what choice I make, I feel like I’m letting someone down, but it hurts the most when I think it’s her. I know I’m only human and I know it’s better for her to know that now but it doesn’t make it any easier and I don’t think the guilt ever goes away.

  16. Sometimes at night, after I’ve put my beautiful baby down to bed, I wonder if I paid enough attention to her that day. I wonder if I studied her long enough as she practiced rolling and crawling. I fear I did not absorb every minute detail of her day because I did things like go on the computer, clean the house, talk on the phone. I struggle between wanting to be totally absorbed in her world and not wanting to lose myself and my own responsibilities in the process. I love being a mother but I can’t only be a mother. I am also me, an adult, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a teacher, a woman. But it is hard to not feel guilty when I think about lost moments when I was preoccupied with something else.