Monday, April 19, 2010

Putting an Epic Phase to Rest

“Just how long can a phase last?”

I distinctly remember asking this, the desperation in my voice unmistakable, when Blink was about three-and-a-half years old. See, shortly after I told three-year-old Blink he was going to be a big brother, he wanted nothing to do with me. It was all Papa, all the time. Relentlessly so. It crushed me (the pregnancy hormones didn’t help, of course, nor did the strained relationship with his father.)

“It’s just a phase” is cold comfort when you’re in the throws of something ferocious and as-of-yet unexperienced. Months went by. My entire pregnancy. I drifted further and further from my firstborn son.

I suppose most phases don’t end as abruptly as they begin. They recede into the shadows unnoticed until one day you wake up and realize that its nowhere to be seen. That’s not exactly what happened with Blink. His rejection faded over time, but I slowly became entrenched in the grim-faced role of The Enforcer of Limits, Destroyer of All Fun. That’s an awfully lonely place to be.

Years go by and together we weather diagnoses, school woes, and divorce—none of which did much to improve our relationship. I agonized over this child, I advocated for him tirelessly. But so often when we were together the focus was on getting through the day. We locked horns over issues big and small, an endless exhausting cycle. I loved him fiercely. But my shameful confession is that I didn’t simply enjoy him nearly enough.

Oh, there were moments of great joy and tenderness. It’s true. I clung to these moments as if they were all that could sustain me in this parenting gig. And for a few years, they were.

But not any more. These past few months I have felt less like Blink’s adversary (getting out the door in the morning, aside) and much more like his champion, like his bigger, wiser adult ally. I think he feels like I’m on his side in a way he didn’t before. We are laughing more and more each week.

So what happened to make this possible? Well, a lot. Today I have having an amazingly supportive partner with wise insights, a man who draws me into the fun every chance he gets and provides a strong shoulder to cry on when I need to let it out. Blink’s medication, too, has played a role in getting past the physically aggressive meltdowns and let more of his true personality shine through. We can all relax a bit more these days. And wise therapists have given some advice that has helped us all grow closer.

I think I can finally answer my question: A phase can last roughly five-and-a-half years, in our case, at least.

No comments: