Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Merry Christmas, Mom! I Got You This Deadly Payload of Guilt

Pork Chop can say "I love you." He just can't say "I love you" to me. He loves his daddy. He loves his daycare provider. He loves the dog. He loves Elmo. He once professed love to a donut. But me? His mother? I'm good for a laugh. I make a mean snack. But love? Well . . .

My husband tries to tell me that our son does love me. That maybe Pork Chop sees me as an extension of himself and, as such, doesn't feel compelled to tell me how he feels. We did, after all, share a body for 9 months, which was followed by 15 months of breastfeeding. I want to believe my husband. But when my kid grabs my throat skin between his grimy toddler fingernails because I tried to brush his teeth? It's pretty clear that he understands we're separate entities. It's also clear that he fights dirty.

2014 has been a banner year. On New Year's Day, I made one resolution: write more.

In January, I penned my first essay about motherhood. That essay earned me a spot in Listen to Your Mother DC. By February, a blog was born. By July, Scary Mommy had picked up one of my stories. By October, I made the front page of Huffington Post Parents. And by November, I was writing instead of sleeping and writing instead of making respectable lunch choices and writing instead of being on time to anything and writing instead of doing that thing I needed to do but can't remember (pay bills? gyn appointment? go to the bathroom?). But, damn it, I wrote MORE!

Note: You have to imagine that I just bellowed "MORE" while in my bathrobe, wild-eyed from exhaustion, and kinda power squatting, like I'm about to give birth to my own creative genius.

Somewhere along the way, my son also turned a year old. He learned to walk (finally, gawd). He started talking in earnest. He started dancing. He started singing. He knows all the words to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" (because his taste in lullabies is diverse).
He doesn't even wait for me to praise him anymore; when he does something special, he proclaims, "Good job!" at the top of his toddler lungs. Fastened the velcro on his shoes? "Good job!" Threw a ball? "Good job!" Farted in the bathtub? "Good job!" Threw blocks at our expensive hardwood floor while I shouted at him to stop? "Good job!"

Pork Chop is less of a pork chop every day. Less and less a helpless little pink hunk. His independence frightens me. How can I keep him safe from the great wide world while also keeping him safe from me, from my need to mother the hell out of him?

About 2 weeks ago, the boy and I were hustling about the kitchen in the morning. He noshed on a banana while I gathered our coats. It was a work day for me, so I had to get the kid to daycare by 8. Pork Chop rifled through his toy box, banana still in hand, looking for his favorite red ball. I took that moment to open my laptop, to tap out just a one more line of a post.

Suddenly, my son's sticky hands were grasping the tabletop. He was on his tiptoes, craning his neck so that he could see me above the open computer. His brow was furrowed. His eyes were brimming with tears.

"I love you! Turn it off!" he said.

And I died. I died for a good 30 seconds, and then I came back to my own thudding heart and to my hot face and to my son, gripping the table like he was gripping a life raft.

How, indeed, do I save him from me?

I turned it off. I gathered up my kid. I decided to write a little less for a little while.

Let me be clear: Parenting and pursuing what you love are not mutually exclusive endeavors. But juggling the two requires more creative scheduling than my simple New Year's resolution took into account. Huffington Post is nice. Huffington Post, however, does not sit on my lap at night and sing reggae lullabies with me.

I'm taking the rest of December off from writing new stuff. I'll be back in the New Year. I cross my cold, distracted heart. But like Bob says, don't worry. For the next few weeks, I'll be featuring my favorite posts from the Welcome to the Bundle archive. AND, AND I've convinced some of the Internets's finest bloggers to share their best posts of 2014 right here on my site. That means you will still get your regular Wednesday Welcome to the Bundle fix, but you'll also get Friday posts too. Maybe even some Monday posts. It's gonna be rad. I'm pretty much Bloggy Claus.

One year ago.

And have I mentioned that I love you? Yes, you, my readers? I do. I really do. Thank you for laughing with me. Thanks for laughing at me. Thanks for your comments and the stories you've shared. Thanks for filling my year with more MORE!


  1. The other day, my friend's son was in the midst of some existential toddler crisis. Being the good Christian mom she is, she told him to pray to God and he would listen. Her son's response: "But Mom, what if God is on his phone and doesn't hear me?".

    [strategically insert dramatic pause here]

    Twenty-first century parenting problems: We all has 'em. But maybe we should start listening to our little philosophers and spend less time connected to the internet (a huge feat for a social media addict like myself) and more time connected to each other (but not in a Human Centipede kinda way, cuz that's just as bad).

    Merry Holidays, Jess!


  2. Aww, I LOVE YOU, Jess! I totally get this, 110%. I feel the same way, all the time. Sometimes my kids have to repeat themselves 20x before I hear them. Enjoy your break!!

  3. You are a rock star, Jessica. That is all.
    Happy Holidays to you and yours...much love, and hope to see you in person soon!

  4. So beautiful. And so oddly timely for me. Because we all know other blog writers write for us! us! us!

    Anyway, beautiful. Now close the laptop and enjoy your time! (I won't call it free time, because you have a toddler, but you know, time.)

  5. I think little kids don't tell their Mommies because it's too big for them to express. Neither of mine started saying "I love you" until the were 3 or 4. Don't sweat it. You are the most important person in his world!

  6. And you're sure he wasn't talking to the banana?

  7. I will miss all your funny posts that make me feel oh so normal. I am also ver y happy for you, self care is such a great thing to role model for our kids!

  8. We love you too, my children have always been easy at telling me they love me in fact they still tell me all the time and it is nice.

  9. I love this, Jessica. Mothering and pursuing anything else is SO hard. But it's also so worth it. I'm glad you're doing both, that you're writing and mothering and taking breaks when you need to. Cheers to you and your writing and the great possibilities for you in the new year! xo.