He Doesn't Like Me
"Mommy, Jeremy* said that he doesn't like me," Henry said to me looking at the ground with tears in his eyes.
"What did you say to him when he told you that?" I asked, feeling completely out of my league.
"I told him I didn't like him either." And with that, he skipped away.
Realistically, I know that not everyone will like my son. And I know that because I know that not everyone likes me, and that's just life. But hearing the hurt in his three-year-old voice cut through me like a knife. And it made me realize another part of this parenting journey that I'm not quite ready for - broken hearts, broken friendships, the feeling of sadness when it's bigger than "Daddy won't let me have a third pack of fruit snacks".
I'm not ready for his feelings to be hurt.
I'm not ready for his heart to be broken.
I'm not ready.
Henry, at three years old, is still very partial to certain people in his life. Jackson, Eston, Sophia and Serenity all consistently rank high on his "best friends" list. And the hugs and genuine feelings that pass between them all on a day to day basis at daycare is incredibly heartwarming to see.
The shouts of "Henry!" when he comes to daycare after a few days away. The bear hugs he receives before heading home at night make me smile. And the few stolen kisses he's received from his "girlfriends" always make me laugh.
Hearing that another boy might not like my son, no matter how Henry feels about him, too, hurt me in a way I didn't know was possible. It felt like a personal attack on me. And yet, he shook it off, skipped away, and went on with life.
If only life could be as easy as it is at three years old.
*Name has been changed to protect the other child, even if he doesn't like my son.
The breeze is blowing through my hair as I push the purple double swing. I'm watching both boys, and they're both grinning, holding tightly to the metal chains. Henry leans back and forth, trying to propel them higher in between my pushes. It's quiet aside from the squeak of the chains and the babble between two brothers.
I can't stop thinking about how different of a baby you are these days. From the first 5 or so months of your life to now, it's like we have a completely different baby living with us. And let me tell you, we're all so much happier these days - you included. You're a HAPPY baby now. We even have strangers stop us, you give them that incredible grin you have, and they remark about what a happy baby you are. And finally, I'm able to say "yes, he is". Plus, we just have a lot of people stopping us to tell you how beautiful you are. It's those big blue eyes man, so much like your brothers. Between the two of you, you guys are always turning heads when we're out.
I remember the moment that Henry met Harrison. It was one of the best and also scariest moments of my life. Leading up to Harrison's birth, we talked to Henry about how life was going to change and tried to make him understand (as best a 3 year old could) that things would be different. But still, I worried. So on that day when he walked into the hospital room, my heart was racing.
There was a time, not long ago, where I felt in control of my life. Every day I got up and I knew what would happen, I could guess how I would feel, and I counted on that. I can pinpoint when that changed.
It was January 30, 2018 at 3:29 pm.
That is the exact moment that a beautiful little boy (who I was so convinced was a girl) came screaming into my life. We named him Harrison. And since then, over these last six months, I've felt anything but in control.
Oh sweet buddy, this last month was SO MUCH BETTER. It's like you're a new baby. Like we're a new family. We're all so much happier because... YOU SLEEP NOW! Granted, you still aren't sleeping through the night, but sometimes we get six or seven hour stretches and it's like I don't even know what to do with myself.
I knew I was supposed to put him down. We're sleep training him after all, and I'm supposed to put him down while he's still sleepy. But for some reason it just hit me. Harrison is my last baby. I'll never have another baby of mine at 5 months and 24 days old. Tomorrow he'll already be another day older. I felt the tears prick my eyes.
It's just you and I sitting in the squeaky, hand-me down rocking chair, the same way it's been approximately seven thousand times since you were born five months ago. It's just you and I. The house is still and quiet. We're rocking back and forth, back and forth while you gulp down a 6 ounce bottle as if you haven't eaten in days.
Well, this wasn't quite as good a month as we had hoped. Towards the end of the month we FINALLY got your belly issues resolved after having been on medicine most of the month. But we're still working through an issue with your legs while you're sleeping.
I am an introvert through and through. Though I may not have had the name for it early on, I always knew that I felt physically drained from being around people for long stretches of time. Groups of people intimidate me. Having to make small talk makes me want to hide in a corner. And I need time away from everyone in order to feel like myself again. For a long time I thought there was something wrong with me, so I just kept pushing myself to be more "normal".
It's been nearly two months since I left my corporate job to stay at home with my boys and run the magazine from the comfort of my bedroom. I don't know if it's because I only went back to work for two weeks following my maternity leave, or if that's just how life goes when you stay at home, but it feels like I've been gone from the corporate world a lot longer.
I know you aren’t supposed to wish away time in your baby’s life because it all goes so quickly - but I think we can all agree that we’d be okay with forgetting this past month ever happened. It was another rough one. Really rough. There were a lot of tears throughout the month and they weren’t all from you.
When the word fear comes to mind, I tend to think "I'm not scared of much, really". But then as I sit with the question and analyze it all a bit more, I realize that isn't true. I'm fearful, terrified really, of one big thing that affects different parts of my life in many ways. Failure.
He’s heavy in my arms, physically and mentally. He only wants me and the unrelenting need is exhausting. I’m permanently carrying around a 14 pound weight and I wonder how much longer I can keep going.
Today you have been in our lives for three months but it feels like a lifetime. I won't lie, this has been another really hard month BUT things seem to be slowly improving. Or, at least we can hope. We may have finally figured out your belly issues and you're slowly starting to sleep more and more.
Today is the close of one chapter and the beginning of another.
Ever since I was old enough, I have worked full-time. Throughout college I worked while going to school, with a new job ready for me as soon as I graduated. The longest absence I’ve taken from the working world was for the maternity leave I had with both of my sons.
Well, today I’m leaving behind the corporate world as I step into a new chapter of my life.
His cries pierce the deepest sleep I've had all night. I look at the clock.
Damn, it's only been 45 minutes this time. It's the fourth time I've been up with him since we went to bed a few hours ago.
My feet hit the floor with a thud. I run into the door frame with my shoulder. I stumble down the hall. I'm in a fog, moving strictly on autopilot.
Oh what a month it has been. Things have been rough this month. Really rough. You seem to hate sleeping and don't do it often which has lead to a very tired household for us all, and of course, a lot of frustration. (And apparently your brother also went through this at the same age.) It seems you're often two babies - the one who is very sweet and starting to coo and smile, and then the one who fights sleep at every turn and because of that gets overly tired and fussy.
I know it's been four years so I've probably blocked out a majority of the hard times with Henry, but I honestly don't remember it being this hard. Harrison isn't a kid that likes to sleep, and until recently, he spent the majority of the day being cranky. Now, thankfully, it's just the end of the night. But still... HE DOESN'T SLEEP. Did Henry sleep? I swear he did.
Four weeks ago you leisurely entered our lives. You were screaming, red, and perfect. And now, a month later, not much has changed. I won't lie, it's been quite the month of adjustment for all of us. In general, you're a very calm, contented baby. But in the last week or two you've run into some digestive issues that has you a bit fussier than normal and has Daddy and I more exhausted than normal. Plus, no one likes to see their baby in pain, especially when you can't tell us what hurts and we can't tell you how we'll fix it.
Three weeks ago my life was flipped upside down again in the best way when we welcomed our second baby boy into the world. Though you may have already seen pictures of this beautiful little boy on my Instagram or Facebook page, today I wanted to share how he came into the world - in a completely different labor than the one I had with Henry.
Today you are four. I can hardly believe that you have been in our lives for four whole years. But at the same time, I can't remember life before you, and I don't want to. You have been such a bright light in our life and I'm thankful every day that I get to be your Mama.
You're going to be a big brother any day now and it's taken me a long time to realize just how much its affecting me that you'll no longer be the only baby in my life. I have spent the last nine months preparing you for welcoming a new little person into our lives, but I haven't spent much time preparing myself.
36 weeks down. 4 (or less) to go. I had Henry at 37 weeks, so I wouldn't be mad to introduce this teeny one into our family next week. I'm miserably uncomfortable at this point. With Henry I was on bed rest starting at 34 weeks and I'm now seeing how much better that was physically for my body. I get exhausted walking around at work. Hell, I get exhausted getting off the couch.
At 30 weeks pregnant, I can barely remember the nausea of the first twenty weeks. Maybe this is what people mean when they say you forget all of the hardships of pregnancy and it makes you more willing to do it again. (Note to Grandmas: We're done after this one, don't get your hopes up.) When I was pregnant with Henry, I was sick right up until the very end so I never got enjoy this honeymoon period. But this baby is taking it a lot easier on me.
Life has felt overwhelming lately. In both the best ways, and some really tough ways. I sit down to write and nothing comes out. I don't know where to start with all of these thoughts swirling around in my head. Some of them I'm not able to say out loud yet, others just sound repetitive. So instead I walk away. I take a break. And somehow I find myself back here three weeks later feeling the same. So instead, here's a run-down of things in my head...
As he grows, I'm constantly questioning if we're doing the right things. It's a typical parenting feeling, I'd assume, but I hope that we're teaching him well and loving him even better. I want to pour into him the things that I've learned in my 34 years of life, but I want to give him the space to mix up his own thoughts and feelings and emotions. He's a part of me, but separate from me. He's his own individual and sometimes it takes me a second to remember that. So I give him bits and pieces, I help to guide him, but I also step back and watch.
It's early. The sun is still hiding, but our house is awake and moving. It's 6:57 am and we're ready to hit the road to head to work/daycare/work. Henry is on my lap while I'm putting socks, pants, and then shoes on. He's pushing against my growing belly and as I reach down to put the left sock on, I realize just how long his legs have gotten. The drape down over my own. They're long and skinny and sprouting the lightest blond hair. He has to bend his knee for me to reach his foot. Will I still be able to have him sit on my lap in a few months when my belly is an eight month belly?
Seeing me with a camera in my hand is a pretty standard sight in our house. I'm always capturing little moments of our days - some that seem pretty important (like when we announced Baby 2), others seem fairly boring (like many of the photos below). But still, I keep clicking. I was asked recently why I like taking photos and the answer is simple - there is beauty in the mundane and I want to capture it.
Last Thursday night after dinner, we took advantage of the decidedly summer temperatures, even though we were well into September with only one day to go until the season officially changed to fall. We headed to get icecream to soak up a bit more of the day before nighttime took over.
Today marks 20 weeks of this pregnancy and now that I'm through the first trimester, things seem to be moving much quicker. I've battled through the really tough initial parts and have finally made it to the other side. A quick look at where I am these days: