I have a joyful subject for my 400th post. Remember when Matthew was mad at me and turned to me and vehemently declared, "Me no like wu, mommy!"? It hurt my feelings so much that I just left his room without explanation, went downstairs, and cried in Brent's chest. We try to be understanding, as parents, and to see that their vehemence is transient, and that they are learning to juggle more than one emotion at one space of time, discovering that it is possible to be angry at and to love someone at the same time, but sometimes our kids just wound us. Intentionally or not, the wound still bleeds.
I'm actually quite thankful that this topic ever came up. After I soaked Brent's shirt with snot and tears, I went back upstairs and finished putting Matthew to bed. During the course of our conversation I mentioned that you can like both mommy AND daddy at the same time. (He initially was mad at me because he preferred daddy to put him to bed that night--in fact, most nights--and we had insisted upon me putting him to bed). He was silent for a bit and then changed the subject. But the next day he asked me, out of the blue, "Wu like me AND wu like Ayden, mommy?" And I knew I had gotten through to him. One of my hidden fears is that Matthew will grow up believing Ayden is my favourite, because my relationship with Ayden is often easier than my relationship with Matthew, and because I fear Matthew will think I prefer my biological kids. When he said 'wu like me AND wu like Ayden?' it cut down my fear substantially. Yes, I like both you AND Ayden. You are my boys! I love you!
Many conversations have sprung out of this first one, initiated by Matthew as he figures out who he 'likes,' and who 'likes' him, and whether or not that changes when you feel angry. Sometimes after I've been angry with him I will tell him, "Even when I am mad at you, I still love you. I always, always love you. I always like you. You are my favourite Matthew in the whole, wide world." Last week at the lunch table he said to me, "Me like wu, me like Ayden, me like daddy, me like wu! Bose team!" Yes sweetie, we are the Vose team! We like you, too!
And sometimes I'll leave it at that, and sometimes I'll follow this little conversation with 'things I love about you,' or 'this is WHY I love you,' and he listens intently without comment. It makes me feel like a good parent to make and capitalize upon opportunities like this one.
And spontaneously he has started to tell me, "Me like wu, mommy." When he says it, he sounds so full of contentment that it fills me with joy. I earned that statement! Tooth and nail. Despair and courage. I lost all my weapons in the fight and resorted to my fingernails, teeth, and ferocious instinct. Some days, people, it took all I had not to pack a bag, walk out the front door, and never look back. Live with less again. Less complication, less grief, less responsibility, less...But obviously I knew that what I really wanted to leave was my self loathing, and leaving my children motherless would only make me loathe myself more, having actually broken the hearts of two children and one man, so I yanked up my boots and waded through the mess and finally, finally, am far enough into the other side to trust that this goodness will stay, that I'm past the muck and failure and loathing, and can once again say "I'm a good mommy. My kid likes me." His declarations are sometimes accompanied by spontaneous giddy hugs, and wiggles.
That's all I can say.