Monday, September 22, 2014

Parenthood: Week 69 - Rejection

Sometimes Ollie pushes me away.

Most of the time when I approach Ollie he is happy to see me. He will giggle and scream in joy when I come home from work and other times he crawls over to me to me with a toy in his hand that he is excited to share with me.

There are the nights when I rock Ollie to bed after he is upset and he cuddles into my arms, smiles up to me and gently falls asleep and there are the mornings when he pulls himself up in his crib, smiling to greet me.

Then there are the times when Ollie doesn’t want me around.

There are the moments when he’s upset and I pick him up and instead of being comforted by me he reaches out to Diana. There are the times when Diana is holding Ollie and I come in form a group hug and he pushes me away. And there are the times when I try to hold him and he crawls away.

Ollie is a young toddler with only a small bit of understanding of how his actions affect my feelings. He doesn’t know that when he shows a preference for Diana that it makes me feel rejected, especially after a long day at work when I haven’t had very much time with him. There is no intent or thought in these actions, there’s only instinct.

Diana does her best to comfort me. Sometimes when he’s showing preference for her, she will leave the room, which sometimes helps him, calm down and focus on me as a source of comfort. She tells me that at some point the tables will turn and he will show a clear preference for me. While I appreciate Diana’s sentiment, I actually don’t find comfort in the idea that Diana will feel this sense of rejection as well. In some ways this may make me sadder than experiencing this rejection myself.

We aren’t supposed to look to our babies for emotional and physical comfort. Babies are not there to serve our needs. If you are looking for unconditional love and a warm-body to cuddle with in the evenings, get a dog, not a baby. While I understand this point intellectually, it’s not that simple in reality.

When I hold Ollie, hug him and kiss him, I get emotional satisfaction out of it and most of the time, not all of the time, Ollie does too. The times when he pushes me away aren’t difficult because of an emotional deficit that is created. Instead Ollie’s rejection makes me feel unimportant, useless and disregarded. Yes, I know that Ollie doesn’t mean to make me feel this way, but those feelings are there and I have to brush them off.

Parenthood is about saying, “I love you,” to a child who cannott or doesn’t say it back. It’s doing for your children without receiving gratitude and it’s knowing that no matter how many time your child may push you away, she is glad that you are part of her life.

Every time Ollie pushes me away it makes me sad, but that doesn’t stop me from coming back the next opportunity I have to give him a hug. Yes, he may want Diana when I pick him up next time, but he might want me. I’ll take my chances because the feeling of Ollie settling into my arms and seeing his smiling face close to mine is far greater and more meaningful than any feeling of rejection.

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