Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Manic Digression

One of the joys of this age is that Zephyr is displaying a wider range of emotions. Instead of being joyful all the time (which I love, don't get me wrong), he's actually starting to reveal a moodier side typical of toddlers. So now, when we're playing and having a grand old time, he's prone to going from manic grins and peals of delight...

...to disgruntled sneers and indignant whining, in mere seconds. The unhappy times are usually directly related to the focus of my attention. Specifically, when my attention is on something other than Zephyr, he's mad. He wants to be held all the time, and is nursing a lot more than he did months ago. He has recently discovered that if he shoots me a soft look and delicately strums at the collar of whatever shirt I'm wearing (while uttering "neh, neh?"), that I will nurse him. Now that he knows how to ask for it, he does. Frequently.

Lately he's really into reading, which is an early relief from my fears that he will have inherited one of his uncles' demeanor instead of that of his bookish parents. It's still early, I suppose, but Scott and I have been nurturing this love of books at every turn. He loves books so much, in fact, that he will grab our fingers to point to each word and picture on a page, and now even grabs his own feet to use as pointers on the pages, which looks like he's trying to breakdance on his books. When he thinks no one is watching, he will use his own fingers and mumble to himself the words of the story.

He also really loves balls these day. "Buh! Buh!" he'll insist, and then we play a rousing game of Roll-and-Catch, or if I need a break, Fetch. He loves his big green ball so much that he will lay down with it and give it a little hug (Scott thinks he's just pressing his ear to the ball to enjoy the warped sound, but he does this to his soft toys too, and I can't imagine they distort sound much. I also choose to think Zephyr is engaging in this activity for the cuter of the two possible reasons.)

Lately I've been feeling really disconnected from my own family. Most of it is my own doing - I haven't talked to my father since last summer. I'm pissed that he forgot to call on Zephyr's birthday, and prior to that, he'd only called me to ask to borrow money (this was the same day as Zephyr's surgery last summer, and he never even called to follow up on Zephyr's progress). My brother and dad, as far as I can tell, think that my dysfunctional childhood is a figment of my own exaggeration, and that I should "get over it." For the better part of my adulthood, I thought I had buried most of it, and I have been pretty stalwart and callous about it all, but motherhood is dragging up a lot of heavy shit that I thought I dealt with a long time ago.

I'm furious that my father hurt me, my brother and my mother, and that he continues to gloss over all of it as excusable because he was drinking at the time. Yes, I'm still pissed about that. I'm furious that my brother idolizes a man that was so disrespectful and irresponsible to his children and partner, and I'm furious that my father allowed my only brother to walk down the same tragic, mistake-fraught path by preventing him from experiencing any of the consequences of his own fucked-up decisions. I have missed out on a brother that could have been a great man, and I am really pissed about that. I'm tired of being treated as a self-righteous martyr because I chose not to become a statistic and instead fight to be the opposite of these people.

I will do anything to make sure that Zephyr has everything I didn't have, not the least of which is stability, predictability, and freedom from violence. The other shit - opportunities to develop his talents, to have friends stay the night for pizza and too many video games, to be in sports or plays or band or whatever the hell tickles his fancy - I will make sure he has that, too, frivolous or not. If it means I need to check out of the family for awhile (or forever), so be it.

Choosing to have children is the greatest act of egomania in which person can indulge. Having a child says, "I am so important and special that more of my DNA should be in the world." To have children without at least the intention of doing a better job than our parents is smug and lazy. To be a survivor of horrible shit and to then say, "it was good enough for me, it's good enough for mine" is utter sociopathy.


  1. You go, fierce Mama Bear. The clan has your back.

  2. Your dysfunctional childhood is NOT a figment of your imagination or exaggeration! I was there, I know! You have every right to feel the way you do, and I'm sure it would be better with your mom here to talk to. I'm so sorry! You are dealing with a lot, but doing an awesome job with Zeph. I can just tell. The fact that this stuff bothers you is a huge indicator of what kind of parent you are. Your mom would be SUPER proud of you! Love you!

  3. Great work, you.
    You will never get over it. It never goes away. My parents (mid-80s) still hate me for... being uppity? After they spent decades beating me down.
    Your son is a work of art. Congratulations.

  4. mama_nata nailed it. Fierce. Mama. Bear.

  5. PS: You guys had better join Eastside Family Co-op when Zeph hits 18 mos...you will loooooove it (and we would looooove you to be there).

  6. Thanks, ladies. It never ceases to amaze me how so many of the cool women that I know have their own stories.

  7. Making decisions about whether and how to sever ties with family members - particularly those who have caused you and themselves a lot of pain - is not easy and never clear cut. It only gets harder and more complicated as a mom. One one hand you can't imagine how someone would choose to screw it up so badly and drag their kids along with them.

    On the other hand you don't want to stop seeing all of the potential that your dad and brother never lived up to - things that through some miracle of genetics live through you and ZDawg. It must also be hard to think of Zephyr never knowing your family, especially once you've had a kid and you feel on a daily basis how important a functional family can be in raising a child.

    Whatever you choose will be ok. By some miracle you don't suffer from the same level of neurosis - not by a long shot - and your decisions are motivated by logic and love for the new family you are building. I wish I could go back and share with the little you all of the love that you and I share for our little babes.

    Maybe you can't turn back time but someday when you are old and grey, Zephyr and Scott will love you in a way that your dad and brother never could and hopefully that will give some closure.

    Love you.

  8. Wanting to be a better parent than the parents you had is a fine and noble goal. I never understand people that try to please/tolerate family members that WERE NOT GOOD TO THEM. Your most important job is to take care of your son--and it sounds like you're doing a great job. That is infinitely more important than your family of origin's feelings, and it's more fun, too.

  9. Heather, thanks so much for being so real. I'm certain that you will do the right thing for your son. So much of this post hits home for me. I hope that if I have the opportunity to be a mom, I will have your clarity of mind and strength.

    Much love,



  10. Wow, that was deep! I am going through a lot with my family as well, particularly my parents. Just keep your head up anyway, and doing your job as a mommy, raising that adorably handsome boy!

  11. I thankfully had a pretty nice go of it family wise...my husband? anything but. I'm sorry you went through it, but I am so glad you're in a place now where you can create a totally different world for your son to inhabit.

    Now I'll just day dream about sending my mother in law your father's way. It sounds like they deserve each other.


Yay! Thanks for saying nice stuff about my baby.