The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I'm Talking About My Baby

...she's some kind of wonderful...

Hey. Guess what? This is my 200th post. Really. And while I'd love it to be some really awe-inspiring piece of brilliance, you're stuck with my standard rambly stuff. I've got about a half dozen things I want to talk about...most of them weekend updates...but rather than do a forty page post, I'm probably going to break them up a bit. So, you know, check back as I'll be hitting this again as time permits.

First up today is some stuff with my youngest. She's hardly a baby anymore, but it's a name she's going to have extreme difficulty putting behind her. As the youngest in the family, she's still the baby to us, even though she's closing in on seven pretty quickly. Given the logistics, she's always gonna be the youngest. Consequently, that baby thing is gonna be pretty hard to shake.

She's pretty good about tolerating it, and, from time to time, is only too happy to play the part. I'm sure I send her mixed signals when I remind her not to talk like a baby (which she does with far too easy frequency), while asking her to curl up in my lap and cuddle me. Selfishness on my part, I assure you. I want her to grow up independent and strong, but I find myself clinging to that tiny, tiny babe that she once was. I suppose the point of all of that was to point out that it made what happened over the weekend difficult for me.

What I wanted to chat about today is something that happened Saturday. My ex brought the kids back (after his week long visit) and it was fairly uneventful. They were all happy to see me and Highlander and, after unloading their mountains of chattel, we started to go through things to see what had been forgotten. It's become an all too unfortunate ritual that we do every time they come home from their Dad's house. Something (usually more than one something) is always left behind when they come back to us from their daddy's place.

The one that bothers me the most is forgetting [Kid 3]'s stuffed sleeping buddy, but that one made it back this week. She was missing a couple pieces of clothing, but had wanted a toy that her Dad had bought her (though I'm not sure if it was something she thought about en route, or if it was something they'd discussed beforehand) at a yardsale that morning. He had, before they even got to my place, promised her he'd bring it later on Saturday.

And so, several hours after he'd initially dropped them off, he ran back by to drop off the "forgotten items". Because [Kid 3] loves both her dad and I very much, and even though it's been nearly two years since we split, she has moments when she's really torn. We had one of those on Saturday. The worst one I've seen since the split. Her loyalty to both of us makes it difficult on her. She was upset that her Dad couldn't stay and visit with her longer. She clearly enjoys his company.

She cried, pleading with him to stay, and when he finally left, she was still upset. I held her and talked to her and told her that he loved spending time with her, too, and that she'd see him next weekend, and I was sure they'd have a nice time.

Not enough, though.

What I got back was, "Why did you and Daddy have to get divorced?". That's a tough one. The older girls know. They saw and understood things, but the baby...well...she was a baby. She doesn't remember the problems. I got a lump in my throat and told her that Daddy and I just couldn't get along very well anymore. She's entirely too young to understand the intricacies of a marriage dissolving.

Part of me is glad that she doesn't remember the bad stuff. Part of me wishes she did. Maybe then, I wouldn't have gotten her follow up. "Why didn't you try harder to get along with Daddy? You should have tried harder." Of course, she has no idea how hard I did try. In her eyes, Mommy fixes everything, why couldn't I fix this, too? As easy as it would have been to tell her that her Daddy was a drug addict and that Mommy tried and tried and tried to make it work, but that he just wouldn't STOP, I can't.

I can't stand the thought of seeing that little light flicker out of her eyes forever, and I never want to be the one who has to do it. Instead, I tried to explain that it was complicated and that while she was getting to be a very big girl, there were things she just couldn't understand yet. Things that we will talk about and that she will understand better when she's older. But for now, she should know that Mommy tried very, very hard to keep the family together and that while it's always important to try your hardest, sometimes, even trying your hardest doesn't always work.

It was hard to hear the hurt in her little voice as she told me that she's starting to forget what it was like for all of us to be living together as a family. She wants to hold onto those memories pretty desperately. She will forget, though. Memories of being four don't stay with you for a lifetime. She told me that when she's at her Dad's and starts missing me, she looks at her bedroom wall (at the fairies and butterflies that I painted there for her, what seems like so long ago now), and she feels like I'm there with her. I'm sure, though, she doesn't remember the days spent painting that wall. I'm glad I do.

I'm glad, too, that she loves her Dad. For the record, the other two do, as well. They love him in spite of his flaws. The baby loves him, but doesn't see any flaws. She's still at that stage where she believes the people she loves have no flaws. Reality for a six year old is such a different one from yours and mine. There are moments that I wish I could share it with her.

Moments like when, after leaving him three phone messages on Sunday (and an email on Monday), his explanation for not returning her call (until she called him, yet again, on Monday evening) is that he accidentally erased all her messages. Of course, she's already forgiven him.

She's the baby, though. As her mother, I want to protect her from every hurt. All you parents know how futile that is, though. Not that it will stop any of us from trying.

I can't fix it for her this time. I can't turn back the clock and make the whole thing come out differently. I know that someday she will understand that I did everything I could do to make it work. For everyone. Obviously, I have my flaws, too. In the meantime, I intend to do everything in my power to help her become the happy, independent, strong, smart, beautiful young woman she is destined to become. There's not much else I can do.


Blogger MJ Norton said...

Congratulations on your 200th!

As for the rest, a tough, tough row to hoe, as we've discussed many times. I don't envy you these decisions, but you appear to be handling them well -- not that that surprises me.

On the plus side of the overall experience is that with the three daughters and the stretch of years, you've come up through the mommy process over a much longer time than I've had as a father -- having the two sons only two years apart. There's such scant time to learn with one and have any hope of applying that to the other, especially since the younger son has proven the more precocious. For me, I found that my experience growing up didn't prepare me at all for the role of parent, so it was something I had to feel my way through, and in the end I think it's preparing me to be a better grandparent, though "better" will likely prove to be a highly subjective term.

As I consider it, I can see why there's so often conflict concerning "meddling" grandparents. The grandparents might very well be working off a sense of old debts in botching the job of parenting and feel that they've finally gotten it just right, a move that potentially usurps the parents' authority...

But - BOY, do I digress...

There are some things even a mommy can't fix. Some things are wrong in people that only that person can fix. Sometimes, too, there's no way to "fix" something without trying to change someone else or yourself, and that's sometimes not a good thing to do. Square pegs and round holes, that sort of thing. (Or deciding to either live with the reactions or going to some extreme like shaving and waxing a cat because one's allergic to cat dander; you could keep the cat, but in either case how happy would everyone be?)

Yeah, it's a situation that's terribly complicated to deal with in simple terms and that won't diminish people in her eyes. Steady on, and she'll understand in time.

9/05/2006 12:02 PM  

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