Saturday night Brian’s father came to live with us for a while. I will admit to a certain sense of apprehension – he stayed with us when Duckie was about four or five months old and the experience wasn’t pleasant for any of us, for several reasons. We were all going through major transitions – Skipper’s marriage had just ended, I was not dealing well with various responsibilities as a mother and a wife, and Brian, I think, was constantly torn between the two of us, with very little time for himself.
A lot has changed since then. Duckie’s older, I’m appropriately medicated and managing my own emotional issues somewhat better, and our established routine has built in opportunities for both Brian and me to get our fix of solitary time (which we both need.) I ask for help much better than I used to – I’m fairly shameless about it anymore, which is a good thing.
Still, I was more than a little stressed about the change. I realized Friday afternoon that I was allowing this fear and tension to dominate my outlook, and did a decent job of setting it to the side. I was working myself up to a fever pitch of anxiety, which was ridiculous because I had no idea how it was going to be with Skipper, and because I was setting myself up for disaster in any case. I let it go as much as I could.
Duckie and I spent Saturday getting things ready – buying and setting up a new air bed, clearing out most of the den for Skipper, and doing what I could to give him a comfortable space with us. We went to Buffy’s house on that afternoon, where Duckie played well with Skye and Izzy (M’s five-month-old daughter.) I drank more wine than I had anticipated, but was able to manage the occasional overwhelming need to smoke on the way home.
They were due to arrive Saturday night, so I went home early, put Duckie to bed without a bath, and woke up a little later to greet them. It was good to have Brian back, and it was good to be there for him. I know he was exhausted from the drive and from schlepping boxes, but I think he was grateful to be home.
We’re making the transition. I’m sticking with the routine as much as I can, and Brian’s supporting it, too. Duckie is completely enamored of her Papa, and he with her. From an outsider’s perspective, their relationship seems to be a very healing experience for Skipper.
I am prone to bouts of jealousy. Up to now, I’ve been her favorite person, with the notable exception of getting dressed for school, when I’m challenged with a very stubborn, very strong little girl who works herself into berserker frenzy at the sight of jeans. (She doesn’t do badly with other kinds of pants, so I may have to look into a small investment in size 2 sweats.) Now Papa is her best friend, and I feel like she’s growing up, and growing away from me, too fast. It’s a comfort that I can still put her to bed at night, and that she still comes to me to cuddle in the mornings.
M and I walked around the lake a couple of times yesterday, with Izzy happily riding in a front pack on M’s chest, squealing with delight, kicking her little legs and waving her arms with excitement. M is the epitome of comfortable motherhood – she’s working as a real estate agent and takes Izzy everywhere with her. I found myself jealous of her immersion in early motherhood. I ached to experience Duckie’s first months again without the anger, fear, depression and conflicts that haunted me the first time. M and her husband had Izzy after being married for ten years, so their relationship was well established before it was engulfed by the enormous changes and responsibilities that come with parenthood. K is working long hours, and I know they feel the separation, but it’s not the same as the constant guilt I felt when Duckie was first born – that I couldn’t spend the time I needed with Brian to show him he was still important to me. That wasn’t entirely my fault, of course – but Brian and I had gotten married only a few months before Duckie was born, so there were bound to be issues, regardless. That feeling of resentment, that feeling that I wasn’t allowed to enjoy my time with Duckie as an infant, came back with a vengeance yesterday.
At least I know where it’s coming from. I know something about what the challenges are, the new ones as well as the ones that sat unattended in the past. Brian and I talk a lot more than we used to – and Papa’s stronger presence in Duckie’s life will only help that. We’ll get more time alone.
I know that our house has gotten a lot smaller in the last few days. I know that living with two men isn’t always going to be easy. (Boys – eeeeeew!) I know that Skipper likes more conversation than I’m used to. And I know that I can take advantage of Skipper’s presence – I can ask for his help.
I think it’s going to be OK, with some work and patience on everyone’s part. I suppose you could say that about a lot of things.