Today, I had to stop myself from jumping up off the couch to check on my son, after hearing his voice. I was worried that he needed something, perhaps something that only I could provide. He was safely outside with his dad, who was watching him while I got some much needed rest (I am also 4 months pregnant). Yet I still had that nagging feeling that he might need me, and only me. And there are moments (quite a few of them) when he would probably agree. My son is almost two, so most requests are directed at me, even if my husband is within arm’s reach.
So why is it that I feel I must respond, as quickly as if my boss were summoning me to his office? Why do I feel that I must pull myself away from whatever leisurely task I am doing (think laundry, calling the dentist, etc.), that I must handle the emergency of the moment? Does this make me feel somehow more important? Do I have that ever-present need to be needed? Or am I simply hard-wired, as a mom, to respond whenever the cries (or screams, or whines) of my child can be heard?
Maybe it’s a little bit of all of the above. Let’s face it, we all like to feel needed. But it’s probably more than that. Per my understanding of history, the presence of male figures in the general raising of children is a relatively new occurrence. It’s really only been the last 40 years (or even less in some cultures) when fathers have taken a hands-on role in their children’s lives. So it makes sense that women, biologically at least, would feel the need to take on most tasks childrearing-related, whether required to or not.
I think the issue for me is that, despite wanting to help my child, I can feel resentful. Yep, I said it. I can resent the fact that I am unable to just shut out the sounds of my son, especially because it feels like my husband can. When my son was an infant, it drove me nuts that my husband could sleep through his cries, even if it was only for 30 seconds longer than me. I’d be awake practically as soon as my child inhaled prior to that first wailing cry. And if I did try to ignore those cries, I felt pangs of guilt (oh, yes, the mommy guilt – but that’s another topic entirely, isn’t it?).
In order to get guilt-free me time, I have to either hide in the farther away room, with music on, or just leave the house completely. It can be exhausting. And I often want to change my own response to situations involving my child, yet I know that isn’t really possible. I will always be number one in my child’s eyes – at least for the next 5 years or so – and I should treasure that. I should be proud of the fact that my child wants me to sooth and comfort him, and I should take all that comes with that willingly.
These days of being my son’s number one are limited. Yes, there will still be days I need to seek out a spa for a quiet escape, and I won’t always happily bounce out of bed for 3 a.m. ‘emergencies’, but I will certainly miss this one day. Resentfulness and all.
This post is linked up at Cool Moms link up.