Deana and Andrew arrived yesterday. I sat through my three classes as sweet whims of Andrew's face floated across my mind. I was so excited to get over to my parent's house and see the little bugger but when I walked through the door and said, "Andrew! How ya been?" he looked at me like, "Who are you and why are you so loud?" and then he looked back at the pan he was playing with.
But I didn't care. I swooped in and picked him up and squeezed, because my nephew is a wiggler. He has thighs like a sumo wrestler and his arms aren't anything close to scrawny. When you squeeze Andrew you feel like you are squeezing a big, overstuffed pillow--that is alive. Contrarily, when you squeeze Ethan, you feel like you are squeezing an empty wrapping paper role.
This hug got Ethan's attention and he walked over and looked up at me like, "Mom, what are you doing? Don't you know you are mine?"
This is pretty much how its been since then. Jealousy has arrived at our doorstep folks. Jealousy, paired with almost-two-ness, has turned my sweet natured little boy into a pent-up, frustrated, swatting toddler. Swatting, you say? Swatting. He gets this look in his eye like, "I'm mad. I'm frustrated." and then he swings one, sometimes two arms in a sort of limp, bent wrist sort of way in my, or Andrew's, general direction.
It's not full out hitting but its enough to scare both his mom and daddy into lengthy discussions on discipline tactics and life philosophies.
Both of which we are quite unsure of in the moment. This is the one thing I do know: I have to play with Ethan. I have to get down on the floor with him and help him build something; I have to sit my rear down in a chair for some serious Curious George time; I have to show Ethan that I like him, I want to spend time with him, and I wouldn't want to live without him.
Otherwise, no discipline will matter because he won't care what I have to say.
I have already experienced this. I have had weeks where I am stressed and needy and only "put up" with Ethan; you know, just the essentials: change the diaper, feed him pretzels, milk. Make sure he's dressed. Then he does something that warrants a time out and when I go in to redeem the situation, instead of his usual, "saw-ry mamma," I get a look that says in a two-year old sort of way, "screw you."
It makes me think of marriage, and how I had no idea what I was getting myself into. In Kathleen Norris' book, The Cloister Walk, a friend tells her concerning marriage that she is "entering deep, uncharted waters."
Parenting is the same. Who knew what cosmic elements in the universe were changing as Ethan made his way (quite slowly) down my birth canal? I'll tell you what was changing. My own selfish world, that is what was changing. My Time. My Body. My Future. My Money.
And I had no idea. I thought it would all pretty much stay the same, just with a baby added on. No, looking back, Ethan was a bomb falling on our life.
But God is so gracious to me. He dropped [and is still dropping] this bomb s-l-o-w-l-y, so that I barely notice, except when I stop to think about it. Or, in that underlying feeling that is almost a constant in my life:THIS IS HARD.
And I don't know. Maybe after bombs trees grow back better and stronger, like after a fire. Maybe some things have to be blown up to be rid of them, so that something better, healthier, will grow.