February 24, 2010

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

It is no secret that I suffered from Inferior Parent Complex for well over a year. I've bitched about it before, so it's nothing new. To me, it always seemed the PK liked the hubby way more than she liked me. She always seemed to find him more fun. She always seemed to miss me more. And I don't think that I was way off-base in saying that. After all, PK and the hubby developed a bond that took PK and me a little while longer to develop. First off, this parenting thing didn't come naturally to me. Then there were all of the life-changes that came along with my induction into Parenthood - losing free time, losing sleep, surrendering my boobs to my baby (temporary setback, thank goodness), worrying if PK was eating enough...I could go on. Plus I spent a year feeling bad because I wasn't working. (If you're wondering why I didn't cut my mat-leave short, my answer to you is that I would never forgive myself for missing out on PK's milestones - even if I wasn't exactly having the time of my life while I was off.) Needless to say, it took us a while to bond.

But then a wonderful thing happened: I started working again. While being back at work meant that I spent less time with PK and had even less free time than before, it also meant that the time we spent together had to really count for something. And that was my moment of epiphany. Suddenly, this whole parenting thing started to make sense to me (or at least more sense than it used to). Maybe it was because I was a happier person for being back at work. Maybe it's because PK was a heck of a lot more fun at age 1 than she was at say, 3 months. Who knows. The point is that we bonded.

I must confess, however, that when I started work, I thought that PK would react in the same manner that she does when she hasn't seen the hubby for a while. For example, when we went to Myrtle Beach on first family vacation last year, she was REALLY clingy around the hubby. So much so that she would freak out if I tried to pick her up. I guess she clued into the fact that he was around more often than usual during that week, and was afraid that if she couldn't see him, he'd disappear forever.

I suppose I expected the same behavior from her around me now that I'm not around her all day long. Granted, when I pick her up from daycare, she always runs over to me, flashing me a great big smile and giggling with excitement, and often comes bearing gifts - a ball, a toy phone, or her daily report. It's really cute and it totally makes my day. And yes, when PK first started going to daycare, she would cry and cry when I left. It was heart-wrenching, because I knew that she was sad to see me go, but it was also comforting to know that she missed me. Nowadays, she doesn't even flinch when I leave her at daycare. That's also good, because I know that she's happy there and is in good hands while I'm at work.

Last weekend, my project at work went into production, so I had to work for part of the weekend. It was nothing major - a few hours on Sunday, and I got to work from home. Still, I was holed up in a corner with my laptop while the hubby looked after PK. I was finished with my work by lunchtime, so we got to eat as a family. At one point during lunch, PK leaned over to me, pointed at me, said "mom", and lovingly took my hand. It was her way of telling me that she missed me. If that doesn't make your heart melt, I don't know what will!

The moral of the story is that I have come to the realization that PK loves us both equally, and that she has different ways of showing us that she misses us. When it comes to the hubby, she gets quite worked up when he leaves, especially after spending longer-than-usual chunks of time with him. The hubby thinks it's because she sees him as a transient figure. He did, after all, return to work 3 weeks after she was born, whereas I was around for nearly one year. PK views me, however, as a constant in her life. She takes it for granted that I'm around (even though I'm not around as much), and that even when I disappear, I'll always return. I guess she doesn't feel that way about the hubby - she still feels like he'll disappear forever if he goes away.

Regardless of how differently she reacts around us, one thing is for sure - I definitely feel loved!

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