Larkin may have had the right idea.

Sometimes Mog tests my patience to its limit. What?! Surely not! A four-year-old boy? Nah. Look at this face:

Is he not the very picture of innocence and adorability?

Don't let him fool you, people. That cuteness masks a whole lot of stubborn, highly demanding, often clingy, four-year-old hijinks. Add that to the Momma from whom he inherited all those traits, a Momma who is domestically challenged, yet playing stay-at-home Mommy for the summer WITH NO DAYCARE, mix in a bit of muggy weather, and you get some real crankiness. Did I mention that Mog is not going to daycare this summer? At all? Any days? Okay, just making sure.

Today was one of those days where really, I was just about done in. I can only participate in couch cushion fortress assembly, Matchbox car races through the entire house, dance-a-longs to an entire CD of songs whose lyrics reference tractors, and other such delightful shenanigans for so many days in a row before I begin to go insane.

It has come to my attention that I have absolutely no ability to balance my other responsibilities with taking care of my son. When he is here, it is ALL Mog ALL the time. It's like I'm a grandparent instead of a parent. I focus 100% of my attention on him and push aside all the not so important stuff--laundry and other household chores, paying bills, grocery shopping, etc.--and during the school year, this kind of semi, sorta-ish works because I jamb all of the other life crap into the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when I work, and then Tuesdays and Thursdays, when it's just him and me, it's party time! This approach (and honestly, I didn't even realize it was a pattern with me until here lately) clearly is not going to work all summer long. Not only am I going to end up getting my utilities shut off for nonpayment, but also, I am going to go shit ass crazy. Shit. Ass. Crazy. This is not your normal, run-of-the-mill "this kid is driving me crazy," crazy, people. I'm talking about clawing at your own face, pulling out your hair and eating it crazy. Hyperbole much? No. Not at all.

Ahem. Where were we? Ah, yes. I have to find a way to balance things. A better, more responsible means of parenting. I won't deny that part of my parental style probably has to do with being divorced. Who doesn't want to be the "fun" parent, after all? In the back of my mind, no matter how much I tell myself to grow up and be rational, lurks this terror that someday, he won't want to live with me. Someday he'll choose his dad over me. Someday I'll lose him. He'll leave me too. Just like his dad did. (Oh fuck off, Freud! What do you know?!)

Then again, I had these tendencies before the divorce too. The 100% undivided, all my attention on the baby/kiddo. When he was born, this little guy was suddenly my whole world. How could it be otherwise? (Don't worry--I've already begun a savings account for Mog, which I try to contribute to regularly in order to offset the cost of the extensive psychotherapy he will need later in life.)

Philip Larkin's "This Be the Verse" keeps running through my mind, in a closed loop.

 All of this is just to lead up to the ridiculous irony, the fact that all day long I've been thinking (okay, I may have also said it aloud ONCE) "Thank God he's spending the night with his father tonight." When is he getting picked up? What time is it now? *checking clock repeatedly* And yet the very minute I hear vehicle tires crunching over the driveway gravel, my deliverance(!), I am bereft. Even before the hugs and goodbyes, and the last-minute grabbing of essential toys, my stomach gaps with the wide open emptiness. I don't know what to do without him here. He's gone, and I'm a shell.

I realize how dumb this all sounds. And whiny. It sounds whiny, even to me. As though I just refuse to be happy, either way. I kind of want to smack myself and yell in my own face, "Shut up, you with your fake problems!"

Sometimes I tell myself Mog would be better off if I turned him over to his father entirely: surely Eli couldn't fuck him up as badly as I am bound to. And then pretty quickly, I think, "Nah. ... That dude's got issues too." ;)

So tell me, oh wise Internet, what is the answer? How does one raise a child, this walking, talking, thinking being of whom one is in near constant awe, without turning him/her into a spoiled rotten, ungrateful little punk with a sense of entitlement OR a sniveling, non-functioning adult with severe Mommy issues? Because honestly, some days I have no idea.

Also, I'm pretty sure my water bill is past due.


Kai said...

As a stepparent who enjoyed the part-time-ness, I have no really great words of wisdom for you. The best thing I can offer is to start making a plan. If you plan your life at work (lists, appointments, goals, timelines) then transfer that over to home life too. It's the only way I succeed on an ongoing basis in my life, and I'll be the first to say I'm definitely not consistent. But on those days and rare weeks, when I write a plan for waht will be done,and I (mostly) stick to it... then they are the most fulfilled and satisfying times. So... for the summer, set your schedule. Have definite "play times" with Mog... and have times when he's working on an "alone-time" project while you pay your bills. Break it up into 30 minute increments if you can. And keep it consistent. So Mondays are the bill paying days. Tuesdays and Fridays are the laundry days. And so on. Just an idea. I've got more if you want 'em. But I'll stop tossing advice out for now. Oh... and the pit of your stomach feeling, the worry that he won't pick you later on... I think every parent in a separated dual-parenting situation feels that to an extent. But being a parent (versus being a fun friend) will be much better when you hit the teen years. This I know from absolute experience in my own (step) kids with how they now do or don't relate to their bio-moms. Be the parent first. Be a fun friend second. Hugs Rachel. Lots of hugs to you!

adriane said...

The answer to this is obvious... have more kids for him to play with and take the pressure off you!