The idea of eternal worship by my son scares me.
“These sons are urged into life by their reciprocal love of their mother. But when they come to manhood, they can’t love, because their mother is the strongest power in their lives, and holds them.”
~ Excerpt of a letter from D.H. Lawrence to literary editor Edward Garnett regarding the layered subtext of his autobiographical piece, Sons and Lovers.
I had the best intentions when I first began my position as “Mommy.”
I was careful with my language and phrasing, wrote all Critter’s milestones in his journal and took photos religiously. Keeping my son off a shrink’s couch is high on my list of priorities. I’m legally and morally bound to release a healthy adult into the world.
When my marriage began to fray following Critter’s birth, my relationship with my son shifted into a maternal gray area. I found a level of intimacy and unconditional love difficult to duplicate with higher mileage beings. I knew what he wanted and needed; I could fulfill his demands. I was secure with him. He had confidence in me and it was perfect. Then he started talking in sentences.
Lately, critical analysis of my parenting legacy is relegated to his birthday and Mother’s Day. It’s the only time I make a conscious effort to be nice for more than an hour. This past Mother’s Day, a very good friend (the oldest son and veritable expert on the subject of mother-son bonds) sent me the following text: “You’ll be the woman he compares every woman he meets to. He’ll always love you and take care of you.”
Compare all other women to me? That’s a lot of pressure on a mere mortal.
The definition of imperfection: me.
I am secure enough to admit to the viewing public that as a mother, I’m spastic. I’m harsh, selfish and progressive. I’m the only one in the family who has not introduced my child to the sinister side of the leather belt.
However, I’ve given up complete diplomacy with Critter. He’s become unexpectedly sophisticated in the art. Now, I fold in discipline using the family standard: “I-will-do-bodily-harm-to-you-if-you-even-think-about-it” laser stare/sneer. I concede that he “is a smart boy” with lots of high-fives and kisses. I speak positive affirmations in his ability to do new things and lead with grace.
Yet, I am short-fused when he resorts to whining for what he wants (or roused from sleep during REM).
Extended nursing and co-sleeping has created a strange dynamic in my life.
I need plenty of time-outs from my role as a parent, but I am still weaning myself of my son’s physical company. I tune him out when he refuses to let me enjoy silence. Occasionally, I feign interest in the latest version of Optimus Prime Daddy purchased. I want to be left alone during the times he’s voracious for my presence.
Conversely, at night I go into his room at least twice to make sure he’s comfortable and steal kisses. I’ll even admit that I’ll twist his curls around my fingers and take in the scent of his breath (unless he’s eaten garlic bread). When bouts with insomnia have me on the ropes, I retreat to his corner of the world. I find peace laying next to him.
Our Facebook relationship designation would be “it’s complicated.” I love Critter and he makes me happy, but without other outlets I’m simply in another stifling male/female love cycle.
Are you sure you want to marry someone like me, Critter?
Recently, I experienced a difficult verbal exchange with someone important to me. I’ve learned to compartmentalize my individual self from the “Mommy,” but the pain punctured every layer.
I wasn’t overtly bereft, but the person closest to me sensed my unease. Critter gave me the gift of gentleness as we went through our daily routine. Quietly, affectionately, he embraced my humanness with hugs and kisses. I was hurt and he didn’t judge me; he just loved me.
I believe our complicated relationship will be of benefit to Critter as he encounters people with varying levels of complexity. He watches the female love of his life grope and blunder through life every day. He could care less because I’m still here.
My son doesn’t (presently anyway) wake up mad about what happened yesterday or worried about if I’ll be here tomorrow. I’m here now. And that’s how I prefer my men, er, worshipers…short on memory, long on love.
ShaMecha Simms wants you to know that no Critters were harmed in the writing of this piece. She can’t, however, guarantee his safety during standoffs in the grocery store’s cookie aisle. You can reach ShaMecha at [email protected].
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Editor: Kate Bartolotta