I love my mommy and my mommy loves me. You’re probably thinking that this is going to be one of those posts about our perfect relationship depicting parenting as all smiles, hugs, and kisses. That would be in line with most of my writing, but this post is going to be different.
All mommies and babies struggle sometimes. We all have bad days and bad moments when we are angry, sad, exasperated, and questioning our ability to cope. Sometimes we come to a point where we simply don’t know how to proceed further. Each of us has a breaking point and the mommy and baby relationship tests that point frequently.
These things are normal but we rarely share these ugly moments with the world. Instead we prefer to paint a pretty picture of ourselves being perfect and serene living in a world of constant unconditional love. I’m going to change that now by sharing one of our recent ugly truths.
For the past couple of months I have been experiencing strange discomfort in my mouth. It’s not the first time this has happened, but this time the experience has been much worse. When I get these feelings, I don’t really like to eat.
That’s two months of grumpy mealtimes where I will eat no more than three spoonfuls and then refuse any more. Sometimes I don’t even want to taste my food and refuse to have it anywhere near my mouth. My way of refusing food is to tear my bib off, keep my mouth firmly closed, turn my face away from mommy, and flail my arms at the spoon.
In the beginning mommy would let me put my food aside for later, but I wasn’t eating enough in a day. Since then, mommy has been trying to push me to eat. This has caused me to become more adamant in my strategies to refuse food, and mommy has been becoming more desperate to get food into my tummy.
Mealtimes have become very difficult and time-consuming. Mommy distracts me with toys and lets me watch my favourite video while I eat. This helps a bit but mealtime is still a struggle for us. I take a few bites then turn away. With more coaxing I take another bite or two and launch a hand at the spoon sending food flying.
A couple of days ago we had our worst mealtime yet. We had a long day and mommy was trying to get a late night meal into my tummy before bedtime. I was tired and I could tell mommy was tired too. She was also complaining about something called a headache, whatever that means.
I wasn’t in the mood to eat and I was making that very clear with my yells and growls, but mommy wasn’t listening. Whenever I swat at the spoon, mommy tells me I’m being naughty but I do it anyway. How else will mommy know that I mean business. That night mommy meant business too. After covering mommy in food for the third time, mommy yelled at me.
My immediate response was to cry, which I occasionally do when I really don’t want to eat. Usually mommy backs off at that point but not this time. Instead, mommy told me to stop crying and eat my food. I didn’t stop. Instead I cried louder with big tears running down my cheeks.
At this point I was very upset. My mouth hurt, I was tired, mommy was yelling at me, and I didn’t understand why. While sobbing uncontrollably, and with tears running down my face, I reached out my hand towards mommy and gave her a pleading look. Mommy froze and looked at me with an expression full of sadness and heartache. Seeing mommy sad didn’t make me feel better so I cried with more urgency.
Mommy took my hand and told me it would be alright if I just calmed down. I figured this was a trick to get me to eat more, so I tore my hand away and cried louder. Mommy tried to talk calmly to me but I could barely hear her over all the crying. I didn’t know what to do, so I cried some more.
Mommy gave me some water which made me stop crying for a moment but then I started up again. Mommy offered me more water but I told her that I didn’t want any while I continued to cry loudly. Mommy insisted on the water and once I started drinking it, I finally began to calm down.
At that point I was exhausted and I could tell mommy was pretty spent too. We brushed my teeth together and mommy took me upstairs for my bedtime routine. Before I go to bed, mommy always holds me for a while and we have a good snuggle. That night we made up for the fight we had and we snuggled extra hard until I fell asleep in mommy’s arms.
I know mommy loves me even if we get upset with one another. I suspect that mommy might feel like I don’t love her but that’s not true. I just don’t know how to express my feelings yet. I do have my ways of letting mommy know but they are subtle and easy to miss.
Mommy and I have our disagreements and fights just like anyone else. It’s hard sometimes because mommy doesn’t always understand what I’m trying to tell her and I rarely know what mommy is talking about. It doesn’t mean we are dysfunctional, in fact I would say we are quite normal.
If everyone has these bad moments, why are people so reluctant to share them with others? I suspect it’s because mommies and babies love each other so much that we want to be made of pure love. Those ugly moments we see as failures that make us question ourselves. It’s hard to reveal failure in trivial matters, it’s even more difficult to show it in the one area that is more important to us than all the others combined.
Our mealtime argument was certainly not a pretty sight, but was it really the horrible failure that it seemed to be at the time? Nobody likes to see their beloved baby cry, but my crying is not the same as mommy’s crying. I have limited options for communicating my feelings. Crying is the only way I know to express strong displeasure.
Last week my Baby Einstein Star Bright Symphony stopped working. It’s one of my favourite toys. I yelled at it in rage, then I threw it across the room, and then I cried. Mommy said it just needed new batteries and that we could fix it but I didn’t believe her until I saw it working again.
Because I haven’t mastered words yet, my attempts at communication rely heavily on physical expressions. I yell, I cry, I growl my displeasure and I giggle, shriek, and even sing my joy. If I really want to get my way, I try to appeal to mommy’s sympathy with a pleading look, a reached out hand, or a snuggle. Works every time.
Disagreements, arguments, and fights might seem like the opposite of a strong relationship but I think they might be proof that a relationship is in fact a strong one. If you think about the fights you’ve had, most of them were probably with people you care for deeply and few if any were with strangers. People we don’t have strong feelings for aren’t worth that kind of effort.
Where there is a large investment of love, there is a high risk for a conflict of an explosive nature. The people we love get both our best and our worst. It is no wonder that the love between mommy and baby sets the stage for our most significant conflicts. As serious as they may seem, it’s nothing that a good snuggle won’t fix.