All Good Things…

Did you ever see that Friends episode where Joey and Chandler’s TV gets stuck on the porn channel?  Not to ruin the plot if you haven’t, but the upshot is that they love it, until they realize all that porn is warping their sense of reality.

Babyman appears to be experiencing a similar struggle surrounding the end of the Christmas season.  The past month has totally messed with his expectations: he wakes in the morning expecting chocolate at the breakfast table (the inevitable Advent calendar hangover); he studies every piece of mail, every package, and every decorative store display before asking “Is there a present for me in there?”; and he watches the door expecting all of the people who love and spoil him to come in at any moment (“What’s Nana doing right now?”; “Where is Grandpa?”; “Is Ben coming to play with me today?”).

Poor kid.  It’s like he’s existed for weeks in a parallel universe filled exclusively with special treats and television specials, where Frosty the Snowman plays on an endless loop over the loudspeakers.  Compared to that, January is a total bummer.

As a fellow Christmas enthusiast I get the let-down. As his mother, however, I am slowly losing patience with the face-crumpling, tantrum-threatening agony he seems to experience every time I say “No, we’re not going to have chocolate at breakfast today; Christmas is over, honey.”  It’s a fine line, sometimes, between empathy and discipline…I find as Babyman gets older I am often delivering a message which essentially boils down to: “I know it’s hard, but that’s life so I need you to pull it together now.”

Fortunately for us, the “hard” stuff really isn’t that awful: it’s hard when the holidays end, it’s hard to leave the party, it’s hard to have to put your toys away and brush your teeth when playing is obviously more fun than hygiene.  As my husband pointed out last night, it’s sort of hilarious when Babyman moans “But I want to plaaaaay!” — as if we force him to scrub the floors or do push-ups most of the time.  The truth is, if he’s not playing, it’s because he’s eating or sleeping.  We should all live such a life.

But sometimes I catch myself thinking about the other hard stuff: it’s hard for Mommy to leave you after ten days playing together; it’s hard to fall back into our weekday rush of packing lunches, kissing goodbye, hustling from dinner to bathtime to bedtime.  It’s hard, sometimes, (when you can still feel the halcyon glow of those vacation days together) to figure out if this is how it has to be, or if this is something we’ve constructed.

I realized yesterday as I sprinted from my office to the train at 5:02 p.m. that part of my frustration with Babyman is that I too am having a bit of trouble with the return to reality.  Vacation forces me to revisit (a-gain) all of those questions about work-life balance that haunt so many of the working moms I know.  I want Babyman to get back in the groove so that I can, too.  I need him to be okay so that I can feel like I made the right choices.

A rather hefty burden for a little man.  Another opportunity to remember that all he needs is a little love.  A few more days and we’ll get there.  All the while counting down to MLK weekend…

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