The past few weeks I have been feeling disconnected from everyone, particularly my family. I’ve been preoccupied with my health (seeming to improve but still vaguely threatening), the financial bloodbath this month has been, and some hard choices I’ve had to make. I have been, to put it mildly, not at my best as a mother. The usual: yelling, criticism, distancing. I know I can do better, and I have had the feeling many times lately that I’ve lost my way. The conflicts have mainly been with Akiva, and I’ve felt powerless to rein in my anger with him.
The insight came to me the other day that what he really thrives on is individual attention, and he gets almost none of it now. When he wakes up, he sometimes gets a little time with Bill, but not much before it’s rush-rush-rush to get to school on time. When I go pick him up from school, Gideon is with me, and we are all three together until Bill comes home just after dinner. By that time, I don’t have the energy to get close with Akiva; I’m already looking ahead to getting the kids to bed and getting on with whatever grown-up work I’ve failed to accomplish during the day. I get a few minutes with Akiva at bedtime but it’s not nearly enough for either of us.
Saturdays, if Gideon naps, we can have some time together, and often we spend the week talking about what we’ll do and looking forward to it. One week we had a sewing party. One week we read Charlotte’s Web. One week we made pretzels. This week we had it in mind to make Hamantaschen. The only problem was that Gideon refused to fall asleep today. (Not that I didn’t still spend a whole hour trying to get him to sleep, while Akiva waited patiently downstairs.) By the time Gidi and I came downstairs, I was grouchy and not at all in the mood to connect with anyone. Akiva, however, had started making a book for me (“How to Draw Ferocious Dinosaurs”) which he said was, “to make you feel better.”
Well, who could resist?
The afternoon passed in relative peace: the boys played together, I puttered in the kitchen and read some newspaper. Eventually I made dinner. Somewhere along the way, it occurred to me that an amazing opportunity for reconnection was staring me in the face.
Six years ago tonight, I went to the Cambridge Birth Center, where my precious Akiva was born in the bathtub several hours later. Late this afternoon, I asked Akiva if he wanted to have an anniversary bath with me tonight, and he honored me with an affirmative response. After dinner, we went upstairs while Bill ran interference with Gideon, and we got in the tub. We talked about Purim and whether he’s having a happy life, about the farm he wants to live on and what kind of pet he’d like to have. I apologized to him for having been so unkind to him lately, and he understood. We laughed and talked and connected.
We’re in a sweet spot for his birthday tomorrow, and my heart is full.