There was this particular night, oh, about three and a half years ago, in which I sat bouncing a nascent Seabass on the yoga ball. It was late: wee-morning-of-the-hours late. I had been bouncing for several hours, punctuated by quick, laughable attempts to lay the ‘Bass down in his crib and put him to sleep. I was depressed. I was sleep-starved. I was a roiling mess of nerves, anxiety, self-loathing, and confusion, and I saw no light at the end of my personal poop-smeared tunnel.
I recall this night because I so vividly remember chanting to myself while I bounced, “Just get this child to three years old. Just get this child to three years old. Just get this child to three years old.” For whatever reason, in my mind, I had decided that the age of three would be when Seabass no longer presented a challenge.
Remember: I had never really hung out with kids before. The milestones and expectations I could place on a child at any age were completely shrouded in mystery. Perhaps I thought he’d suddenly be really fun at that age, or really independent, like he could make himself a sandwich, change the laundry from the washer to the dryer, or clip his own toenails.
Here we are at the age of three and a half, and I’ll admit that some of those things I’d believed are indeed true. Seabass sleeps quite well now. He uses the potty all by himself. And he is really fun. Oh, how he can put Jake and me in stitches with some of the wacky stuff he says. And when I have the energy to answer every little question he poses, life with my precious first-born boy can be beautiful. His scintillating wit and sensitivity toward his surroundings are what make him the one and only Seabass.
But you and I both know this blog isn’t about only the good stuff. It’s about ALL OF THE STUFF. And the stuff can go from ecstatically great to morbidly horrible in a matter of seconds. I believe the correct term is volatile.
He’s moody. He’s bossy. He’s utterly implacable when it comes to what to eat or what to wear. He’s nosy. He’s loud and repeats obnoxious noises sometimes, especially if he knows it bugs me. In fact, he is more adept than anyone I know at finding my last nerve and Riverdancing on it.
He can’t stand for me to spend any affection on Sweet Chuck, so much of my cooing and gurgling with her is done in secret, when he’s not around or looking. He’s like the Cuddle Gestapo. If I so much as wink at her, he starts goo goo gooing and getting up in my stuff for attention.
The truth is I think he really needs that attention. But my skin crawls when he acts like a baby. We are still negotiating how to give him the attention he craves without feeding his lunacy, so to speak.
I love Seabass so much I think my head will pop off sometimes. (If you ever find my noggin rolling down Higuera Street, you’ll know it finally happened.) And oh, how hard on him I am! I’ll cheerfully accept his best efforts…until they’re not good enough.
This motherhood gig is simply too much sometimes. Where is the pause button? Where is the boundary between Seabass and me? Am I even allowed to put up emotional boundaries with a preschooler? Where does he end? Where do I begin?