Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is this a copy or the original?

I find myself trying to remain an "impartial" observer when it comes to my children. I don't want to judge them based on my past or pre-conceived ideals of what a baby should behave like. Who am I kidding here? I am totally partial to my past experiences and pre-conceived ideals of everything and that is my daily struggle. How does one ascertain if their children are simply showing you their individual personas or playing you like an old fiddle and manipulating musical mayhem from your tired strings?

I have been noticing since turning the big "1" that these little angelic beings have started to take on a personality and individualism that is both awesome to witness and a little sad to watch the rapid disappearance of the previously innocent lumps of lovable, soft, non-partisan flesh diminish a little bit every day.

What used to be enough to enthrall and engage is now passe and yesterday's news. Gone are the days of throwing down an empty water bottle or handing them a wooden spoon and hearing glee in the air and smiles as wide as their cheeks would allow; they've been replaced with looks of disappointment and boredom and are enough to send me scurrying to find the next "it" toy to replace the uni-brow of disdain in hopes of receiving a slight curvature of the lips in the upwards direction. I feel like a comic, constantly trying to create new material to cater to a fickle audience who strongly resents hearing yesterday's jokes and doesn't even want to comply with the club's 2 drink minimum.

Living with young children is like cohabitating with xerox copies; let me explain, if you take an original and make a copy and then a copy of that copy they are the same but if you really look closely the image is a little bit different from day to day, because a copy grows by 2% every time you hit the "GO" button . Kids, like copies, are constantly evolving and changing a little bit every day physically and mentally, and what was great today is an apocalyptic disaster the next.

I remember a few years back spending the afternoon with a friend and her then 2 year old. The child was holding her mother's car keys and rubbing them along the front of her new front loader washer and dryer. I was appalled at such behavior and naively inquired "Are you going to let her do that?!" The look she shot me said volumes, and she quietly replied "Just wait, you will allow that and more when you are a mom." I laughed, secretly thinking "Not me - my children will be controlled and "Walk The Line"; my deep apologies to Johnny Cash, but his lyrics obviously didn't apply to toddlers.

My standards have been tested, pushed and ultimately have succumbed to the dual forces of two little people not yet able to utter a word. The relentlessness and determination to do what they feel they must do is exhausting and aggravating and sometimes so funny you can't stop laughing; i.e. the time we were getting them ready to go to the mall play area, and both simultaneously decided it was a good time to cry for NO APPARENT REASON - and just fed off of one another for 15 minutes straight, inconsolable they were. My husband and I just started to laugh and could not stop. It was the hysterical laughter one might hear in asylums; the laughter that is really tears and frustration posing as laughter to try to maintain some control and order to infuse sanity into an insane moment.

While bathing our son, my husband and I were commenting on how beautiful he was. At almost the exact moment we uttered the words, it was like some sort of computer chip implanted deep in his brain alerted the program to exhibit opposite behavior. His sweet face morphed into some sort of play-dough shaped configuration where his nose crumpled up into his eye sockets and his mouth, normally shaped like a sweet bow, was suddenly an egg shaped ovalesque stretched opening which encased a tongue which appeared to have grown by half and I saw deep into his esophagus as he emitted a scream that would scatter locusts to the wind. WTF???

My husband and I stepped back from the tub....I looked at him and said "Do we need an exorcist?", but as we were discussing how to get a hold of "Soul Busters" we heard giggling. Apparently Lil Devil was pleased with himself and had hit the "reset" button on personality and looks.

Not to be outdone, our sweet and "soft-spoken" Aubriana, has evolved and learned that if she whines in a distress tone, her brother gets an immediate shout out of his name and told to cease and desist any behavior that may have offended our little angel. I have recently noticed her do this when nothing was actually happening to her at the time she sent out the SOS call; unless she is exhibiting a testing of the Public Alert system, she seems to be "tattling" on brother, simply because she can.

It is fascinating to observe human beings emerging into themselves. We seem to come pre-loaded with strengths and weaknesses and I am hopeful as a parent I can engage and coax out one and try to tame the other through nurturing, but just as my mother and hers before her, you can only do so much and the individual will follow his/her own path; all you can really do is love them.

As hard as the baby stage is (and it is hard) I find it bittersweet that it's visit is such a short one. The milestones are wonderful to experience, but it is sad to be needed less on a daily basis. I used to have to hold the bottle in order for the liquid exchange to take place, now I am simply allowed to assist. Food is no longer something I have to guide into their mouths with the fork, they can do a fine job of getting most of it in their mouths and even in their ears and hair - thank you very much. Even when walking, which is a fairly new talent for both of them, my hand is shaken away as they show me they can do it without my assistance.

I know they are young and there is much work to do, but it seems like the job of a parent is ultimately to make yourself obsolete, to the extent that your children don't "need" you but rather want you in their lives.

I am probably getting way ahead of myself here as they are only 13 and 14 months old. I was just going over our personal evolutions of the past year and I have changed in so many ways myself since their arrival, some of those changes were voluntary and others forced, but change is always ultimately good for each of us.

I will continue to pray for guidance and strength to do what must be done, and polish my mother armour nightly before entering the "arena" to repeat the day all over again. It is the same yet different from one day to the next and that is the comfort and mystique of motherhood.
The irony of this story is my original thought several years ago "My kids will walk the line", upon truly listening to the lyrics, it is I who walk the line, in hopes of being the mother they deserve and already believe me to be.

Here's to a new and different tomorrow.