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May 11

Playdate with Grammy

I’m consistently surprised by my youngest daughter.  On a spectrum, she’s far and away better at separating from me.  And that always catches me off guard.  It’s so EASY to drop her off.  She kisses me goodbye and its FINE.

Jessie would be a bit weepy at her age.  She’d be okay, she always settled down right away, but it wasn’t ever something she wanted to do.  I, of course, blamed myself.  I didn’t leave her enough.  Or when I did leave her, I blamed myself for having to drop her off – shouldn’t she be with me?  I’m her mother, after all.  But then I had Sam.  And dropping him off just never ever happened.

I mean, it happened.  Of course.  But it was standard procedure for him to scream the entire time I was gone, and we quickly realized that it wasn’t so much fun for anyone else to take him.  It’s not that we ran out of volunteers, but we kind of ran out of volunteers.  Nobody WANTED to have a baby screaming and sobbing and writhing in fury and frustration.  He just hated it, and for a very long time, we just adapted to that.  I took him with me.  All the time.  Or I left him with Marc.

I like being with my kids all the time.  I know there are people who need their space, and need a break from the constant neediness that comes with parenting small children, but I think I handle it pretty well.  I’m patient, I’m relaxed, most of the time, anyway.  I like the chaos and fun of having a lot of kids around, and it never really bothered me that much to have Jessie and later Sam with me all the time.

So of course, I followed pretty much the same path with Julianna.  I’m a stay at home mom, she’s with me 24/7.  We co-sleep, she turned three last week and is just now starting to wean off of nursing.  I expected her to have the same sort of separation issues.

But SHE DOESN’T.  We’ve been discussing, off and on, about how sometimes Mama’s have to go away for a bit, and babies have to stay with their Grammy’s or their Aunties.  And sometimes babies cry, but when they stop crying, they start having fun.  And sometimes, they don’t even cry a little bit, and just have fun.  We talk about it periodically, in the car, usually.  (Julie always brings it up, and she was the first to introduce the topic)  So she’s got a framework, a path to follow.  And she’s just fine.  I left her on Thursday with Becky for a few hours, and all day today with my mother, and she didn’t hesitate.  Kissed me goodbye and was fine.

I drove away and couldn’t help thinking that if having kids was this easy – I’d have had millions.  Because really, the ability to leave them, to drop them off and not have their whole world come crashing down is so incredibly liberating.

Julie heals some part of me that blamed (blames?) myself for Sam’s separation issues.  If I mothered them both the same way (and with those two, I did more the same than with Jessie.  Jessie didn’t fully co-sleep, she had her own crib, she weaned before she was a year, I worked part time from the time she was two until she was three and a half), and Julie and Sam make up two opposite ends of the spectrum, with Jessie in the middle – then really, it’s not because of me at all.  It’s not because I’m an exceptional mother than Julie is so well adjusted and social.  And it’s not because I’m too attached and incapable of pushing him that Sam is reluctant and anxious when it comes to new things.

They’re so different, all three of them, and it’s incredible reassuring to me to see that.  My tendency is to assume total responsibility for all of it.  When they’re well behaved, well, it’s obviously because I know what I’m doing at this mothering thing.  And when they’re a hot screaming mess, then it’s pretty clear (at least to me) that I’m not very good at it all.  But the reality is that I have very little to do with it.  They just are who they are, with different strengths and weaknesses, and my only job is just to help each one be the best they can be.

But – wow, I’m totally scheduling a LOT more playdates with Grammy now that I know how easy it is.

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