Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Binary

We idle at a red light this morning, Munchkin and I, driving to campus. She looks out her window and says, "Two trees, Mom, that house has two trees." She pauses for a microsecond before adding "A Mom tree, and a girl tree."

Munchkin's is a binary world, with bears and bunnies and puppies and cats and even trees and spoons and cat toys rigorously paired off into Mommys and girls. Her whole world is this: there are Mommys and there are girls, each pair twinned indissolubly and essentially. Everywhere she looks this is what she sees, this is the story she creates to account for everything.

Her passion for me is unbounded and her compulsion to pair all the elements of her universe this way is but an imperfect realization of her real desire, which is, actually, that Mommy and Munchkin fuse into one being. And so she squeezes between me and the counter, and then wraps her arms around my leg, and then stands on my feet, and then insinuates herself between my thighs. "I waaaaannnnt you, Mommy," she tells me as she's trying to figure out a yet more intimate attachment. My protests--but I'm right here, my love--are meaningless to her because the fact remains that I still sometimes walk away, sometimes talk to Daddy, sometimes disappear from view, disentangle myself from her caresses.

Last night, asleep for hours, she called my name, insistently, despondently, several times. I went into her room to find her fast asleep but still somehow tortured by my absence. Pynchon says she does this a lot late at night, when he's awake to hear her.

At the very moment that she begins to realize her own autonomy, her own separateness, her own self-hood, in these months that she develops self-consciousness--this is the moment she clings most tightly to me, works to absorb me into her, her into me. Her tantrums lately are evenly distributed into two camps that reflect this paradoxical developmental stage: she yells as loudly to DO IT MYSELF!!!!! as she does to insist that I WANT MOMMY TO COME HERE RIIIGGGGHHT NOOOOWWWWW!!!

It's hard to know when to hold her tighter, when to gently push her toward her own resources, when, sometimes, to leave her with Daddy and vacate the premises so everyone can catch their breath. I know that I have some separation anxiety lately too--when did she get so tall? when did she learn to put her own shoes on?--because she's my girl and I'm her Mommy and if she's afraid of the unknown future of autonomy, I'm afraid of losing the time of symbiosis that's already past.



Girl Blogger and Mom Blogger indulge a shared passion for 'orange noodles' and goofy smiles

13 comments:

Omaha Mama said...

The angle of the picture has her looking like a tween, just years from leaving the nest! When did these little toddlers insist on moving on. Becoming full-fledged preschoolers? My guy does a lot of what you describe here. Only tonight it was his not wanting to stay in his bed without me and trying a little manipulation on for size. "But mommy, I just love you sooooooo much. I don't want you to leave." How to convince him that I really won't - not really.

Christine said...

this makes me think of my boy--so small and young (4) but yet so big and ready for school. one minute he's "baby" again and the next. . .mr. independent.

*sigh*

hoppytoddle said...

You do know that all of this just means you are doing a smashing job, right? It seems like just as soon as we finally convince them that we are there, are accessible, they don't want us anymore. It sucks that this is the way it is supposed to be.

Kyla said...

We never went through this with KayTar. She developed so differently that she skipped certain stages altogether.

You guys will find your way.

the new girl said...

Oh, Mimi--
This is such an awesome description of this stage of development. For both Munchkin AND you (as a mommy.) How eloquent and ACCURATE.

Bon said...

i see this in O too, always looking for mamas (or dadas, he's equal opportunity most of the time) and their boys in things. and looking for the boundaries that will keep him from straying too far, bouncing away from us.

she is adorable.

Bea said...

I don't know whether Pie has gone through this phase - certainly it has not been as intense as what you describe. But I remember going through it myself, with my own mother. It was a weird sensation, reading this post and recalling those very old memories.

Mimi said...

Bea -- me too, and that makes it extra weird. I totally identify with her (me-as-child), while, at the same time, I'm me-as-mom, right?

Cloud said...

We're in a mommy-centric phase now, too, although not as intense as the one you describe. It is sweet and suffocating at the same time, isn't it?

Beck said...

If any of my kids went through that, it was subtler - perhaps because I'm here all the time and there was never any real separations. The Baby did tell me the other night that "you have no babies anymore, mom. I'm a big kid now and don't need you." OUCH.

Janet said...

My third, my baby is going through this big time. It is simultaneously exhausting and flattering. I don't remember 3 being like this with the first two. They had the mama-love, to be sure, but it wasn't so feral.

Mimi said...

Feral! That's it exactly, Janet! I guess some kids really are like that, and some just aren't. Interesting.

kittenpie said...

It's exactly right, that when they discover they are not in fact part of you physically, when they realize that you can part from them, they cling harder. It's at once touching and irritating, if I remember correctly.