Ever since I got pregnant with Dakota, I have felt very insular. As in, I focused way too much on me and my thoughts and didn’t pay nearly enough attention to my boys. I reasoned this was alright because what is that second parent for, right? Over the past two years, Ash;s transition to main evening parent was smooth. He picked them up from daycare and aside from me making dinner on most nights, he also kept them entertained until bath and bed time, which he did pretty much all of. Meanwhile, I was either nauseous or tired or in pain throughout the pregnancy. Sure, I got the kids going in the mornings but Ash did so very much of the parenting. As the end grew nigh, I began to feel guilty over my lack of attention. They didn’t complain – much – but I knew I had robbed them of time. If I wasn’t rushing them out the door and into the car, then I was mad or exasperated. Certainly, Elliot suffered the most because, as the oldest, I expect so much more out of him. So, like my father before me, I found myself angry at him and yelling for God knows what reasons and I know he came to fear my moods.
This is not something I am proud of. This hurts just to type.
But then, Baby Girl came into our lives two weeks before public school began. Elliot was home with myself and Ash that entire first week and when Ash went back to work, it was just me and my son the next week. We ran errands and watched movies and played board games. I think he really liked spending time with me. And my guilt increased because, God, why would he want to when I had been so mean to him? It isn’t fair that children forgive us even when we don’t treat them like we should.
At some point, we decided that Elliot would run the local Thanksgiving race with me. It would be a good distance for him – 5k – and a good way for me to get back into running after the baby. About two weeks ago we began our training, which consists of one day, one mile, another day of sprints, and then one long run – two miles at this point. When we’re running, I am the least mad at him. I set our pace and show him how to work on his form. He actually tells me about school and his friends and of course, silly things too that he knows will get a rise out of me. Sometimes he complains he doesn’t feel like doing it but picks up the pace a second later. He’s more like Ash in that he’s super competitive and wants to be perfect. Running can facilitate that for him. I find that we don’t argue as much now. And he’ll come by and give me random hugs and kisses, whereas he didn’t ever really do that before; he wasn’t that kind of kid. (Isaac is totally that kid.)
As Elliot grows up before my eyes and I feel like I’m losing him more and more, this has actually made me feel so much closer to him. It’s hard for me to change, even knowing that I sometimes reenact my father’s horrible ways. Maybe it is just as hard for Elliot to change the things I get mad at him for. I guess if I can understand that then we can meet in the middle, as we tie our shoes and wait for my watch to find the satellites, stretching and easing out onto the pavement, our goal the same.