I watched Miller and Mark playing outside today in a huge puddle. Despite the cold temps and blowing winds, they were happy as can be. Well, Miller was anyway. I was too, as I watched from the warmth of the living room.
Not too long ago, I would’ve forced myself to join in. Out of guilt, I would’ve gotten up, put on some layers, and stood in the cold to watch Miller splash around. I would’ve done it because “they grow up so fast”. I would’ve done it out of worry that Mark might become the favorite parent.
Miller is our one and only. He is equal parts sun, moon, and stars for both his father and me. Then there’s the fact that I spend the majority of time with him as a stay at home mom and can become territorial with routines and daily norms. Add to that Mark’s desire to make his son happy at all times, and, well, let’s just say Miller is well cared for, tended to, and loved.
Something has changed in me. I’ve stopped trying to prove myself to myself. I’ve stopped trying to be there for every single experience with Miller out of fear that I might miss something. I’ve let go of worrying about whether he likes me or his dad the most.
I’ve started backing off while the boys have father/son time. If I’m within observing distance, I can now watch Miller love his dad without interfering or being insecure.
I used to see their joint happiness and feel threatened by it. But what if he likes his dad more than me? Well, sure, he will at some point, and at some point, he’ll like me more. There’ll also be times when he dislikes both of us equally. Like a few nights ago when neither of us let him chew four sticks of gum at once. How dare we.
Now, when I see their bond, I soak it up.
Sometimes parents vie for a child’s love as though there’s a limited quantity. There’s not. Love is infinite. It’s vast. It surpasses space and time. So if you see your child having a really wonderful moment with the other parent and you’re “shoulding” yourself into joining or telling yourself that you’ll be liked less because you aren’t the one doing fun things with them, stop. Stop.
It’s okay for them to have fun with the other parent. It’s okay for them to shine that huge smile or belly laugh with them. It’s actually more than okay that there’s another person on the planet with whom your child can experience love.
It is an experience, you know, to love. An experience to connect with another person, to share happiness, to create a memory that only exists between two people.
I’ve reconciled with knowing that I won’t be a part of all of my son’s memories, happy or otherwise – that I’m not the only person he loves, and I won’t always be the person whom he loves most.
Previously, that menacing combination of guilt and insecurity would’ve gotten me out of the warmth and into the cold to be a part of today’s puddle play. Today, this newfound self-assurance carried me to the window where I watched a dedicated dad stand in the rain as a smiling boy pushed a toy through the puddle again and again.
Miller caught me peeking at them through the windows. His smile grew even bigger. “Hi Mommy! Mommy, watch this!”
How silly of me to act as though Miller’s love is limited, to try to hog it for myself. His love is not mine to contain or maintain. It’s really not even mine. It’s his, to do with as he chooses, even at this young of an age.