"Unrequited love's a bore
And I've got it pretty bad.
But for someone you adore
It's a pleasure to be sad"
-The Mamas and the Papas
You know those first couple weeks or so with a newborn when you're just so tired, so overwhelmed, your body's working overtime and you feel like you're putting so much in but not getting much out? No payback? With Little Bird, all that payback came when she gave me her first smiles. In those moments, it was all worth it. We moms need that recognition. That brief message that we're doing a good job. That our babies feel all the love we're transmitting. J Bird isn't there yet, but I know he will be in a couple weeks. I so eagerly await those smiles- not just because he's got these incredible dimples, but because I do need that feedback- that reminder that it's all worth it. Little Bird was about six weeks old when she was on her changing table and I took her pacifier out of her mouth and tickled her lips and made a funny sound. And then it happened- a smile! I was on cloud nine. I played the pacifier game over and over just to get that reaction, that love.
Sometimes parenting a kiddo like Little Bird feels like those first few weeks with a newborn- the exhaustion, the constant attempt to appease, to make sure all her needs are met, and also always looking for a hint of appreciation. The Mamas and the Papas quote comes to mind because I often feel like there's this unrequited love. Of course, I know she loves me- I'm her mommy. I'm the one she wants to cling to when she falls (though that often includes pulling my hair or pinching me). She seems to enjoy knowing that I'm proud of her, and wants to make me proud. But, I get very little feedback otherwise. And, yet, like with an unrequited love, I chase it. I find myself constantly trying to get the things from her that I so badly want: a response, recognition, attention, interest, love. Yes, she's verbal and can sometimes answer questions or repeat phrases that's she's heard on TV, but she doesn't always do those things. I often have to really dig to find out anything about her day at school- she'd rather bury herself in an iPad or flip through pages of a book than engage with me. Still, I chase.
I cook and bake things for her that she won't eat. I run around trying to get the things I think will bring her joy. I buy her toys she won't play with. I start conversations she won't finish. This isn't anything new. Sometimes it's more pronounced than others. Sometimes I can accept that it's just the way it is. Sometimes it hurts. And still, I chase her. Always seeking that smile, that recognition, that love.