The past two weeks we have been on a road trip: Boston, Connecticut, Long Island & now Maine. The east coast sun has been incredibly energizing & restorative, allowing me to reflect on the past year & a half with two children. I have been able to really look at the way that my children need me differently & I relate to them differently.
It sounds strange to admit that I need space from my children. But this is my journey and I am coming to terms with it as it unfolds before me. I am learning, my children have presented their own temperaments and personalities to me. I have the privilege of dancing with them. And boy, it's nothing short of a mind fuck.
When Cam turned two, Kaitlin's scheduled c-section date was 10 days a way. I had better managed expectations this time. I knew I was growing a large baby (read: 11+ lbs) and I knew what c-section recovery entailed. I had done a lot of work and come to terms with a fed baby being best, regardless of how they are fed. I had enlisted help, knowing that family was far. What I wasn't prepared for was the influx of emotions that comes with loving your babies differently.
I show up for my children in different ways, and that's okay. Cam has always been a big personality. He's intense in an incredible way. While I know he craves alone time with me, he's super social and it took me a long time to figure out what it was he enjoyed doing in his "mommy & me" moments. The library - not so much. Trader Joe's trips to get "little nibbles" and chat to every passer by...now we are on to something. In all his fury, he appreciates routine and adores school. He likes to know his schedule and where we will go after school, so he can anticipate it all day. As awesome as he is, I am a better parent to him with some space.
When Kaitlin was born, she nursed on the operating table. She was the attachment parent's dream baby. To the mom who has always had to fight for my cuddles, she was the koala baby I never knew I needed. And suddenly, I didn't want to give her up. I didn't want to spend my days away from her. I didn't need as much space. She didn't crave as much autonomy.
Anyone who knows me might argue that this reads wrong, as I adore my first born. It's not that I love either of them more or less - it's that I love them different. They also love me different. Cam loves me intensely, with a bit of distance. We sing together - loudly. We run and jump and splash together, literally and metaphorically. We are the best kind of weirdos together. Kaitlin and I sit and read. She nuzzles in my lap. And in my neck. And tucks herself into a ball that can be enveloped by my two arms and tucked underneath my cardigan. She's a puppy. She needs little distance, but is enjoying navigating her own space. The word "no" is her friend, in all her toddler glory.
Given that our children spend their days somewhat separately, the summer is also an amazing agenda-less way for them to navigate their relationship. In between headlocks and taunting pinches, the photographs are what will be left. Barefoot toes and late afternoon dips in the lake, that's what summer are made of.