I've been thinking about this a lot lately, but it really struck me today at lunch when I was lying on the sofa, and Alex came and curled up on me. I've figured out my role as mother in her life.
Well, damn, Jil! you say. Way to finally figure that shit out after three and a half years! Haha, no. I know the job description. I guess what I mean is, what the shape of that role is in Alexandra's life. What I represent. How I differ from Todd, her father. What I am, and what I am not. How to play to my strengths within that role.
I'm the cuddler. I'm the one to watch Tinkerbell movies with all day. I'm the kisser of wounds, the protector when dada's tickle monster chases get too real. What I'm not, is that tickle monster chaser. I've tried it before, and it's not as fun as when Todd does it, because it's just not one of my passions, to chase my kid and scare the crap out of her as she laughs hysterically throughout all of it.
I love listening to them, taking photos of their games, or video if I can catch it in time. It's also not as welcome coming from me as it is Todd. The other day, as she was trotting around the house, I snuck up behind her and tickled her and she nearly jumped out of her skin she was so startled. And then my kid cried. I did that! Yay, tickle monster mommy!
She jumped and cried because it was not expected from me. I usually "attack" her with a kiss or a big hug, sweeping her up off her feet into my arms. Those are mommy attacks. Not tickle monster attacks, no ma'am, not from mommy. It was then that I realized that, after all my halfhearted attempts to be as exuberantly playful with her as Todd, it was for naught. It wasn't only a waste of time and energy, but it was unneeded and unwanted.
And my goodness, what a relief it is to realize and accept that. So what! So I don't have the energy or desire to chase my kid and throw her on the bed 1,000 times in a row! It's ok! Because I have all the energy, desire and time to hold her, to snuggle, to read together, to play arts and crafts together, do our nails together, to curl up at night in bed with her and never let her go (until she kicks me in the sternum).
She gets her ya-yas out with her father. That's his job, at least one of them. He genuinely loves it and he's genuinely good at it. During her second year of life, when horsing around got really fun, I kept trying to measure up to Todd. Kept trying to follow his lead and be as playful and boisterous with her, because look at how much fun they had! I want to have fun with Alex too!
I forgot that I did have fun with Alex, but in my own way, in our own mommy-daughter ways. We have our own games, our own rituals, our own little language. I had kept trying to be everything in her world, but I never needed to do so. It wasn't necessary. What was necessary was, and is, for me to be present and passionate about the roles I do best. That way, I will offer up to my child the best mother she has. The best version of myself.
And that's all I want to be for her.
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