Monday, November 18, 2013

The Stare

I'm standing by the living room door. He's playing happily with his toys. He asks why I am staring at him. I only realise I'm doing it when he asks the question.  He asks me to stop because he doesn't like it. I think how my mother often does the same to me.

I don't like when she does it either. I worry it makes her wistful, nostalgic or scared in some way. I also feel she may be criticising things about me. She's eighty and she's my mother and I want her to stay strong. She's my mother. Even though I'm grown I need her to be the Mother in my life still.

But I'm a mother now myself and there's no getting away from the fact that I do that staring thing too.  When I do it, my thoughts travel. They travel to the future and they travel to the past. Probably in just the same way as my mother's thoughts do. When I lived abroad for a time, my flat mate said I worried too much about what my mother thought. I still do.

I'm thinking as I stare, of what a magical miracle he is. I'm hoping that he's not lonely  and I'm wishing that I could  have given him a sibling.  I can only try to keep him close to his cousins and friends as compensation for that. I think I'm doing ok.  We don't see his cousins all the time but he knows each and every one of them. We talk about each of them and look at photographs. That's more than I did, growing up. But I had four brothers and that's the difference.

I'm hoping for the future that he will be well adjusted even though I've never followed any child rearing books. Oh yes, I've googled stuff but exploring theories and then practicing them are two very different things. I tend to have a more flexible, play it by ear approach. When the midwives were forcing the breastfeeding policy on to me, I stopped as soon as we got home.  Some may think thats selfish but I was so horrified by that whole experience of people and things pulling and pushing at me, I couldn't bond with my baby.  As far as I was concerned, once he got the Colostrom, that was it. I felt it was better for him to have a functioning mother, than one who was weeping all the time because she felt pressured into breastfeeding him.    It doesn't seem to have physically harmed him. He's rarely sick and has only ever vomited three or four times in his six years of life. 

When others were force feeding their kids at three months or six months because the book had told them to, I knew he wasn't ready. He was seven months when he went onto solids and he had no problems at all. Like me, he is a late bloomer. He didn't walk or get his first tooth until fifteen months old. I didn't worry though. I knew he would do it in his own time. He was a great sleeper. We were lucky. No pacing the floor throughout the night and no bleary heads in the mornings.

When I stare, although I hope I have done some things right, I feel the guilt of the times I haven't been the mother I  aim to be. The times I've lost my temper, lost my patience and almost lost my mind. The time he was barely two years old and he caught his finger in the hinge of the kitchen door. He'd been clinging  to my leg and I swung the door closed not realising his hand was there. A trip to the hospital in an ambulance. An operation to sew his fingertip back on. His vulnerability as he was wheeled back to me unconscious.  The feeling that I had put him there. His Dad had been away on business. If hasn't been for my fantastic sister in law and next door neighbours, I would have felt like the worst mother in the world.

His behaviour isn't always all it could be but he's only just turned Six. I know he's pushing boundaries etc. I don't need the books to tell me that. Its listening to other people that makes me worry about his behaviour but its also listening to other people that makes me stop. We've all pushed the boundaries at certain points in our lives and come out the other side.  He's strong willed and I understand that now and can change my own behaviour accordingly.  I'm hoping that the boundaries we do put in place will be just what he needs.

 I'm hoping for the future that I haven't transferred my over-sensitivity to him, that my relationship with his father, my husband won't impact negatively on him. We're doing our best with what we ourselves learned from our own parents .Sometimes it's effortless but more often than not it's hard work. But that's okay. Life is a lifelong learning process as I prove everyday.

Everything about him is magical, the fact that he's part me and part his Dad. I hope he gets his Dad's brains. And not my tendency to veer away from the logical and drive myself crazy looking for the answer to life's mysteries.

How can I explain all this to him, the miracle of becoming his mother in my forties? How can I explainThe reasons why I often stare at him? How can I tell him how lucky we are that he is in this world at all? Will he hate me if and when he finds out that at one time I thought I didn't want kids because I was scared to embrace motherhood and new life. 

He once asked me if I was glad he picked me as his mother. I didn't understand what he meant. Then he told me that when he was up in heaven, before he was born, he picked me. He says he saw me putting out the bins and he looked down and told Holy God that he wanted THAT Mammy and THAT Daddy.  He said he told my father, his Grandad Pat, who he never actually met, that he wanted him to fly him down and magic him into that lady's tummy! He says Grandad Pats job in heaven is to fly babies down into the tummies of the mothers they pick! I love his imagination and I love his take on things. And Yes! I can safely say that I'm very glad he picked me.

There will be a time when my own mother is no longer around. When that time inevitably comes, I will be more than a mother.  I will be THE  mother in mine and my sons life. While I have my own mother I still  feel mothered and protected, as if I havent fully grown into the idea I'm a mother myself. I just hope that when it happens, I can do half as good a job as her, stare or no stare.

My father used to call her stare 'the look' but 'the look' was reserved for him and that's a whole different story!

I know now I've been unfair when I've berated my mother for staring at me. Rather than think it might possibly be a negative thing, as I have often done, I want my son to know that the 'stare' just means I love him more than I can say.


  1. Love your post! I would say that almost all moms have the 'stare' in one form or another. If you have a dog, show your son how staring with him at the dog with a smile will usually cause the pet to come toward them for further affection. Of course if the 'stare' is with angry eyes and a frown, the dog may find a hiding place! This little act might help your son to understand that your stare is meant to be loving and not menacing. And then to keep him safe outside your home, let him know that strange dogs might not think it's great to be stared at and they may just snarl back.

    1. Lob love your comment! Thanks Donna.

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  2. It seems like a gift to live in the moment, even if that moment is just watching and hoping for him. He ought to feel safe and happy that his mom cares enough to keep watch over him.

  3. I haven't been here in awhile! I've been on the run lately...more than usual and getting ready to go now, too; but I'll be back to catch up! And over to your site, too, Linda, if you're reading this. :)

    1. I'm back and I love this post. I think most people do the staring thing. What is more fascinating, complex, amazing, and alive than a human being. Parents stare because we love the people that came out of us and it seems strange that we did that. So we stare and try to figure it out. But I'm sure that parents who adopted do the same.

      And what about when you first fall in love? We all stare at every inch of him or her.

      Now I look at my parents as I watch them age. It's not with sorrow, but with appreciation and love. I love every sag and every wrinkle on them even though it's not exactly pretty. :)

      Sooo.. keep staring. And when he catches you, smile.

      Oh, and questioning the way you're raising him... I think we all do that too. I'll bet he's having a better life than you sometimes think. :)

    2. Thanks Anita. I love what you said here!


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