Same job, different uniform.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What Molly Taught Me

Two days ago Molly McGee blogged a little post about my son who turned 5 on July 10. She held back much sentiment on him I know. I'm not saying this as a bragging mother, I'm just saying it because it's true since she was practically his mother herself for the first year of his life. As a matter of fact, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that she, a then-19 year old, taught me, a then-34 year old (yes, yes - you are reading that right - I'm 15 years older than my husband's baby sister) a few things about how to love a child. I would not have thought it was something you needed to be taught, but in fact - I might as well just say it to any of you new or almost new mothers out there - sometimes it bloody well is something that you have to be taught.

I gave birth to Wyatt and was overjoyed to have him in my life, but for some reason I did not realize that babies, well, they like to be held . . . alot. And Wyatt wanted to be held. So I held him and tried to put him down, and he cried. I fed him and tried to put him down and he cried. I changed him and held him and tried to put him down and he cried. I spent a lot of time trying to put him down, exhausting both of us, when maybe I should have just held him. (It sort of reminds of what you get told about trying to go to sleep - the more you try the less sleep you get and the more tired you are in the morning. Getting up and reading a book for awhile is less tiresome than trying to sleep when you can't.) And it wasn't like he was hard to comfort - he wasn't. He just wanted to be in my arms. Fancy THAT when you've been ripped out (had a c-section) of this soft, warm (well, HOT really), dark, safe and tiny environment and thrust into this wide-open, scarey, bright, chilly (think air conditioning because it's the middle of summer in Austin, Texas), and frankly sort of hard-edge place.

When Wyatt was 5 months old, I went back to work. Molly McGee babysat Wyatt while I was at work. I am ashamed at how much I liked running off to work on those mornings. I did like coming home to him, but I was not too put out to be away the hours I was gone.

Meanwhile, Wyatt was at home, safely ensconced in Molly's arms. Because SHE did hold him. All the time. When he cried and when he didn't, when he was asleep and when he wasn't. I know there were days when she wanted to put him down because sometimes you just need a break. And she is grounded enough to go ahead and do it when the need arises. But, like her mother before her, sitting and a holding a baby was mostly just fine with her.

I think probably that Wyatt bonded with his aunt sooner and harder than he did with his own mother. For a long time he was not comforted easily by me unless he wanted to nurse (THAT I could do for him!). My mother in law graciously suggested that he probably was fussy when I held him because I was his food source and he wanted to be eating when I held him. It was nice of her to say so and make a new mother feel not so bad about herself, but I think I can admit now that he knew that his auntie was being a better mommy to him than his mommy.

I am still sad that I did not take those precious moments with Wyatt and I hope that with each passing year I make it up to him in other ways because God knows he's a precious soul who deserved every bit of holding and snuggling that I did not give to him. However, I can happily report that I DID learn from Molly McGee (did I tell you she's 15 years younger than me!) and when I had my second child, I held him . . . all the time. My husband and I used to practically race to his bassinet when he woke up to see who could hold him first. I held him in the morning, in the afternoon and at night. I held him when he cried, I held him when he didn't. Frankly, sometimes, when he was itty bitty I was almost loath to put him down. He slept on my belly at night, in a sling during the day while I did dishes, on my shoulder when I shopped.

I know that Wyatt loves me. But it is rarely me that he seeks out first thing in the morning or with whom he wants to have a long conversation. Sometimes I really try to sit down and chat with him and often he 's just distracted or uninterested. It will be okay. I love him to the moon and back and I try every day to be a good mom - failing often, hopefully suceeding more. But I pay for my lack of early attention in little ways and maybe I always will. If I had it to do over, I'd do it differently. My younger son, James, can hardly get enough of me and it is through that lense that I see what I missed with Wyatt all those times that I handed him off or put him down when he just wanted to be snugged up against his warm, safe mother.

But enough of the pity talk. "Thank you, Molly!" for teaching me, whether you knew it or not, how to be a better mother. I still learn from you regularly as you talk to my boys, play with them, listen to them and love on them.

I get a pain when I think how miserable it was for you when we moved away with your "almost son" on July 13, 2004. And I'm so sorry I didn't get it at the time. I think it took moving away and getting to really know my boy, to understand what you already knew - about what a precious gift from God he is and what real mothering is. That it wasn't dressing him, or buying the cute clothes or taking the photos every three months the first year. That it wasn't the birth announcements or the Christmas cards with the precious little outfit. It wasn't making sure he had the "it" toy of the moment that would ensure proper brain development so he can go on scholarship to the college of his choosing. It wasn't wiping his face all the time or keeping his artfully appointed nursery properly in order. You didn't do any of those things and he didn't care.

Thank you, thank you for showing me that.

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Blogger "Molly McGee" said...

Gulp. I don't even know what to say other than thank you for allowing such an amazing boy to be brought into the world and for entrusting me with him for that first year. I can't believe that as of tomorrow four years will have come and gone since that fateful day in July. He changed my life in more ways than I think I even know. BOTH of your sons are so lucky to have you as a mom!

I love you, JEB!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Blogger elphaba said...

it is far too dusty in here

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember my brother telling me, before you guys got married, that one of the things he liked about you was that you knew yourself so well.

More evidence.

What an incredible post. Of course Molly is an incredible girl.

Friday, July 18, 2008


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