There are two little boys running around my house lately.
There is the one that is quiet, and plays independently. He’s the one that is a little angel for his father. He eats without making a mess, doesn’t throw toys, and doesn’t hit anyone. He can be left to his own devices for sometimes hours at a time. He takes naps and goes to bed without crying.
I have never met this child. I only get to play with the ‘other’ boy.
I get to play with the little boy that needs momma to do everything WITH him. The one that is always pulling on my hand and whining, no matter what it is that he wants. The one that will stare at me as he throws a toy, and then scream with outrage when I take it away. The one that kicks and squirms and squeals through every single diaper change. This boy doesn’t want to stay home, but can’t be managed in public. He cries all the way up the stairs for naps. He is frustrated and impatient and always seems unhappy.
I was not aware I was raising two little boys. Nor, was I aware of the difference between a mother and a father, and how that could manifest in the behavior of a single child. I cannot put into words the feeling that emerges when I wake up from sleeping all day (after a hectic night shift) and am told, “Ronan was a little angel today. He’s been so good!” only to have him wake up from a nap, see me, and become the little monster boy that I’ve played with all week. “I don’t understand. He wasn’t like this while you were sleeping.”
I am told this is the way of things. I am told this is how children behave with their mothers, rather than every other person that keeps them. I am told this is normal and to expect it.
But it doesn’t stop me from wishing I got to play with the other boy.