01 Nov 2010

My Kid Made Me Like Kids

8 Comments Family, Personal Crap, Toddler

Okay, I admit it. I didn’t really get it before I had one. What’s the big deal? They’re just little people, only they’re harder to entertain and I have no idea what to talk to them about. I mean sure, they’re cute, but I have no desire to spend any actual time with them. They don’t get me. I don’t know what they want from me. They have nothing important to say!

I have nieces and nephews, and I love every single one of them, but I never totally understood them until I had Garrett. I don’t think everyone is like me. As a matter of fact, I think there are tons of people who are just innately good with children. They have a childlike quality that kids relate to, and a place inside themselves they can tap into that tells them how to make a kid smile. I have that place now, but I was not able to tap into it before. Maybe it was hidden in my uterus and needed a baby to activate it.

Here’s an example of what an ass I used to be around kids. My boyfriend’s (now husband’s) niece and nephew were in town and we all went to Universal Studios. Britt was eight and Tyler was three. Britt and I had a pretty good thing going. I could tell she thought I was cool, and I thought she was quite adorable and very well-behaved. We were sharing laughs as the day went on and I was proud of myself for not screwing up. She then convinced me to go on some Jurassic water ride that looked terrifying. As we stood in line watching the people on the ride screaming and getting soaked I turned to her and said, “I hate you!” Of course, I was kidding. I was being sarcastic. I thought everyone understood sarcasm. Even eight-year-olds who weren’t born into a sarcastic family. Well, that did it. She looked up at me with such hurt in her eyes, and started to cry. OH SHIT! I had no idea what to do. I scrambled. “I WAS KIDDING”, I said. “Please, Britt. I was totally joking! I don’t hate you at all! I LOVE YOU! You’re the BEST!” She didn’t seem to believe me. I said I hated her, so that must be the truth. It was a lesson in kids taking what you say seriously.

When my brother’s kids were born, I was equally inept. I loved their son, Sam immediately. He was adorable with his big, blue eyes and curly, blond hair. I’d hold him and coo. But I wasn’t ever totally comfortable with my skills. Am I holding him right? Is he okay? Should I make a funny face? Is he pooping? And even when Julia came along, I still wasn’t really… There. Again, I loved her. Again, I was confused and a little unsure.

Russ was an expert from the get-go. I think he’s like his mom. If there’s a kid around, they gravitate toward my mother-in-law, and the big, cuddly man I married. He doesn’t even have to try. Kids just always like him.

So, I was afraid that I wouldn’t bond with my own child. I thought I’d be tentative and scared and like, “What the hell am I supposed to do with you?” But, of course, I wasn’t. It was easy and second-nature for me. I knew what he needed, what he meant with each sigh and burp, and exactly how to make him laugh or fall asleep. That was all a surprise. But the bigger surprise was that, all of a sudden, I understood OTHER kids too!  I liked them and wanted to be around them! I’d point them out to Russ and say, “Aw. Isn’t that little guy cute?”

I understand now. I wish I had always understood. Kids are nothing short of amazing, little, sponge-brained, innocent, beautiful beings. They deserve pure happiness. They generate pure joy. Sure, they’re stinky and loud and they need you to do EVERY LITTLE FRIGGIN’ THING for them, but they are so much damn fun to be around. And they’re funny! And smart! They can teach us so much about who we are and the world around us. Now I see a kid, and I feel like I get them and they get me.

I think the biggest thing is that I used to look at kids and think, “What do you want from me?” Now I look at them and think, “What can I offer you? And what will you show me?” I thank God that Garrett activated that part of me. It’s a part I cherish. I’m jealous of those of you who have it naturally. But at least I got it!

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Lisa Arch likes being a working actress... but LOVES being a Mom!
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8 Responses to “My Kid Made Me Like Kids”

  1. Reply AL says:

    It’s is one of the miracles of birth.. watching first time parents….it is my favorite spectator sport! IF you didn’t have IT before…you do now, in spades! (I feel your pain, I made Tyler cry at a family dinner when I tried joking with him..I felt like the worst person on earth…I think he may have forgiven me, but it was a lesson learned)

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Years ago, it was easy to make Tyler cry, even when you were doing everything in your power NOT to. He’s toughened up quite a bit. Now he gives as good as he gets!

  2. Reply Koch says:

    This is the best entry yet (Evidently, I’m keeping track?). No, but, seriously… you verified a mystique with words which I think is VERY difficult to do.

  3. Reply Christine says:

    OK, I am going to make an admission that will probably get me flamed, cursed at and pitied. Here it is: I never wanted kids. I never understood them, I didn’t have the patience for them, and, truth be told, I was too damn selfish for them. But when I met my hubby, who, much like Peter Pan or a Toys R US kid, never wanted to grow up, he made it quite clear that the job of wife included a non-negotiable motherhood clause.

    So, because I loved him, and because just by knowing him, I could visualize what his child would be like, I agreed to give it a shot. We began to try. We tried and tried. We tried, and cried, and tried some more. I was sure that God was punishing me for saying I didn’t want kids. I was sure that I was not meant to have kids. I was sure my body was sensing my fear of having kids. Ant then, after five years of practicing, we finally did it right, and I got pregnant. Thank God.

    But relief was short livbed, because I was a terrible pregnant lady. I hated being pregnant. I never had that bonding feeling. Childbirth is a horror story for another day. But finally, there I was, with a little baby in my arms, waiting for that moment of connection, the kicking in of my maternal instinct, and I felt….absolutely frickin nothing.

    Well. This was a bit confusing. I was in a quandary. I was totally responsible for this helpless little baby. I did wnat to rip the eyes out of anyone who even attempted to look at her. And when anyone tried to hold her, including my husband, I threatened to rip off their arms and beat them sensless with their own bloody appendages. But I didn’t feel all mushy gaa gaa lovey dovey. I became maniacal about Kate’s care. I never slept, never ate, watched over her constantly and made sure her needs were met instantaneously. She and I were a world unto ourselves, and I needed no one else. She was my reason for living. Clearly to everyone except myself, I had gone ape shit friggin bananas. Or, as the medical community likes to say, I had severe post partum depression.

    So, after many months of treatment, and some much needed sleep and lots of my mom’s cooking, I snapped out of it, and began to actually see my daughter. And she was so friggin beautiful, so perfect, that I literally felt my heart stop beating. It was in that moment, the space between heartbeats, that my maternal instinct blossomed.

    I began to see the perfection in children, their innate wisdom, their capacity to love unconditionally, their desire to learn, their ability to understand things on a purely instinctual and intuitive level. The older Kate got, the more I admired her, and the more I was drawn to children, the more I realized that I actually enjoyed these tiny people with huge personalities and definitive opinions.

    Kate is 10 1/2 now, and I thrill in volunteering for anything and everything that involves her life and her friends. I am library mom, art mom, CCD teacher, chorus leader. I have been Brownie leader and class mom. I created and edit an annual newsletter for her class to display their creative endeavors in art, photography, prose and poetry. I am the cool mom, the fun mom, the mom that all the kids want to be with. I am the mom who most often hears, “you should be a teacher, you are so good with kids.”

    None of them believe me when I say I never wanted kids. None of them believe me when I say it was almost two years before I connected with my own child. And to look back at that woman, the me of long ago who was so afraid of not knowing how to mother, of fucking up her kid, I want to reach back through time and look her in the eye and say, “You are a damn good mother.” Because I am. Not flawless, but some days, or maybe some minutes, I think I might be really, really close.

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Wow. Postpartum. I can’t even imagine. I was so terrified of it, and so lucky I didn’t have to deal with it. I can only imagine that coming out the other side of that is like seeing the sun shine after rain for two years. I love how much you love being a mom. It’s in every fiber. I get it completely. Pure. Joy.

  4. Reply Sherry says:

    I grew up loving kids. I adore them. I was a preschool teacher for many years. I have potty trained over 200 children. My husband was the exact opposite. When we found out I was pregnant, he was in shock. His family was not happy in the least. My husband has changed tremendously since the birth of our son. Jason is 14 now and he is very close to his dad. Unfortunately, I’m very hated by his family except for his dad. They were against me ever having another child, so I only have Jason. I love my son very much and remember every cute thing he’s done. One of my favorites is when his 2nd grade teacher asked him what kind of Indian he is ( Jason couldn’t remember Cherokee) his answer, I’m a whiteokee!! Lol. :)

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      I wish the reason for you having only one was different. But I’m sure he’s very lucky to have you. And only one isn’t so bad!!

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