Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Loving My Children, Differently, Equally, Completely

This blog is a semi response to a post over at Babble:

So, yeah, if you have enough time to kill I'd recommend reading it first.


It definitely gave me food for thought. With all our issues with our older son, how could I NOT relate to this woman?

She has the traumatic birth, the separation, the illness, the trouble bonding.

I have the long road to parenthood, his attachment disorder and PTSD, the language barrier, him coming in as a toddler to unprepared parents.

She has the second child with the easier bonding experience who is cuddly and sweet.

I do too.

She notices that she is rougher with her older child, less willing to give in, less preferential.

Yup, same here.

And she acknowledges and works on it, trying to quell the unfairness of it all.

Again, same here.

So yeah, this story REALLY struck me, especially when you factor in that my own family showcases a much more extreme case of bonding troubles with the oldest.

And yet... I do, honestly, love them the same.

Oh, sure, I also love them differently. With my older son I love talking to him and joking with him and laughing with him and I adore our fun moments together. With our younger son it's all about nursing and cuddling and holding and watching him learn and grow. They are different children in different stages of life and so, yeah, in a sense I do love them differently just because I have different experiences with them.

When you get down to it, to that bonding thing, yeah we bonded differently too. With Paxton it was a fight, a constant struggle to attach. I love him and I fought long and hard to earn his love in return, just as I fought long and hard with myself to fall in love with him and accept him for all that he is. If anything, our rocky start only made me love him more.

With Ambrose the total love wasn't instant. I'd worked long and hard to be able to nurse him and to prepare for him, but in his case I didn't have to fight for his love once he was home and perhaps that's where I was thrown off. Even so, I certainly loved him long before he was placed in my arms and I was in love with him within a month, which this time around I knew was totally normal.

Neither of my sons are easy children, both were definitely considered high or even special needs, and maybe that put them on equal footing in some sense. And yet adding Ambrose in was certainly much easier than adding Paxton. A high needs baby is "normal," manageable, mainstream, and much easier when you already feel comfortable and confident as a parent.

Alright, so to sum that all up, my kids are both difficult and wonderful in their own ways and I utterly adore them both.

So now the tough question:
Who would I miss less if they died?

Yeah, that one got me. Like, REALLY got me.

I do have to admit there was a time when Ambrose was a really little bean, nursing and snuggled in a sling nearly 24/7, when I might have felt the same way. In fact, I can somewhat recall thinking one day, in my sleep induced haze, that the whole world could end and everyone could be dead and if it was just Ambrose and me, well, that would be hard but I would find peace so long as I had my baby. Sleep and time remedied such thoughts, though admittedly I do still worry. And I worry more for my little guy because, well, he's little. He can eat bad things and fall off high places because he's small and impulsive and doesn't know any better. It only makes evolutionary sense that a mother would be more concerned about the welfare of her youngest and most vulnerable, especially since I logically know that Paxton will only eat food (and candy) and he understands the concepts of both gravity and fatal mistakes.

I have to say that there are times when I think that if something awful happened to one of my boys and I still had the other one, I could find some way to make peace with it so long as I still had one. I'm utterly petrified of my husband being in charge of both children in public, let alone driving them anywhere, because that's my whole *LIFE* just sitting there waiting for a drunk driver to take it all away. So long as I have one of my boys with me it's almost like a lifeline, a reassurance that everything will be okay. Crazy? Yes, totally. Unnecessary? Uh huh. Overthinking? Yup. And yet I'll admit to it. She admitted to her darkest thoughts, and I'll admit to mine.

And for the record, anything happening to either children would utterly kill me, though I would keep going for the sake of my remaining child.

So, to sum up my totally not-well-written response:

I understand her emotions. I understand depression, I understand holding bitter feelings against your child, and I understand feeling preferential to a youngest child. But I worry about someone admitting to all of this and then thinking "well, there I said it, so we're all good now right? I don't have to work on changing this, right?"

Thing is, I work my butt off to try not being preferential. I have to work hard to make sure I have equal time with my kids. And all we went through to bond with P when we could have just given up on him and let our own anger at his issues overtake us... It's hard. It's damn hard. And it's soooo easy to just love on and adore the cute, cuddly, sweet little baby sitting on your hip and soooo easy to lose your temper with the irate preschooler throwing a fit over something stupid. But even if it's easy and even if it's normal, that doesn't make it right.

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