Monday, February 18, 2008

Orbiting around planet Mommy

Dan doesn't really say mom or mamma or mommy too often. He has to be coaxed. But there really is no denying when he wants me, and only me. Dan calls to Jim, saying dad or dada. He whines and cries for me and generally sticks to me like Velcro.

Over the weekend, Dan seems to have hit a growth spurt. That's our go-to excuse for when he's being a total pain. (Yes, I just called my son a pain. I'm sure he'll feel the same about me when he's 13.) He woke up several times wanting to nurse on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, usually beginning the minute I walked in the door at 2:30 a.m. And in the mornings he was cranky, fussy and clumsy. I'd be upstairs trying to sleep off the late shift. He'd be downstairs with Jim, fussing so loud that one morning I actually staggered to his room just to make sure he wasn't still in his crib. Even when I was in the same room, he was melting down more often than normal. It's almost like I'm his personal complaint box.

This afternoon, Jim says "He never cries this much when you're not around."

"Well, maybe I should just leave," I replied.

In the six months before I got pregnant, I read a book that profoundly changed my outlook on what it means to be a woman and a mother. It's that very change in outlook, incidentally, that I credit with helping me become pregnant by really opening me spiritually. Of course, Jim has other ideas about how the whole pregnancy came about. Anyhow, the author talks about the centripetal, or "drawing in," force that women have. According to the Eastern philosophies, the Earth's energy moves up and through our bodies and inward, creating an irresistable pull. This is why most women I know tend to be the center of their households, setting the tone for what goes on. That explains the age-old (grammatically horrifying) adage: If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

It also explains why my son must be between my legs and the cabinets when I'm cooking dinner, or why he wants to eat off my breakfast plate and not his own, or why he follows me from room to room, or why he stands outside the bathroom door and cries for me. This weekend, Dan seemed to be saving his cries for the moment I got home. Yesterday, he just started wailing, toddled toward me and rubbed his snotty face all over my jeans.

Dan's day at the park

On Monday, Jim, Dan and I went to Duke Gardens. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, a little bit windy, still slightly damp from a recent rainstorm. Of course, since it's still the middle of the winter, there really weren't many flowers to look at, mostly just ducks and other people. Our main objective was to test out Dan's monkey backpack (see photo).

Using the monkey backpack is like trying to leash train a puppy. Dan at first tried to hold onto the leash himself. When we were at the gardens today, he was tickled to be walking with us, until he realized that Jim was in control of how far he could go. Jim did give him some leeway, letting him go off the paths to pick up interesting rocks, sticks and pine cones. Several times, though, Dan bent down and banged his head on the ground in frustration. I did detect some veiled disgust from passersby who probably thought it cruel and inhumane to put a child on a leash. But, mostly, Dan had a blast walking with us instead of being carried.

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