Unacceptable amount of time between posts. I haven't been wanting to write lately, have been sort of coasting along rather than examining my life and mothering--which is a good thing.
I've recently realized that I've been a better mother to Clark than I have to Frances. Clark is easier to mother--that's the biggest reason. Yesterday I had trouble at the end of a play date wrangling two kids into socks and shoes and coats, and we got home late for Clark's nap. If this had been 18 months ago and Frances was the one late for a nap I would have been so anxious, a mess of rushing and panic and irritability, and with good reason: it would have meant a looming tornado and possibly no nap at all (the result of which, as you know, is an entire afternoon and evening of tornados, one after the other). But with Clark it only means a little grumpiness and then immediate sleep. (When I got him out of the car he put his blanket down on the filthy floor of the garage and lay on it...) It was/is in those/these anxious moments that I parent badly--that White Trash Mama appears and tosses the Little Tykes slide down the basement stairs (just as an example). These moments come when I feel out of control--not of the kids, but of schedules, or meals, or other things I believe I should be able to control if only I pay enough attention. I know I'm a little fanatical about things like nap schedules, but now I realize that it's not just me--I had to be because Frances required it if she were to remain collected. Clark glides along much better, and I can relax about these things. And when I relax I yell less, I rush less, I like life more, I parent better.
But it's also timing. Clark and I went to the mall earlier this week while Frances was in school and it was so much fun. I kept thinking how Frances wasn't so jolly and agreeable and fun at this age. Then I talked to my mom on my cell while Clark climbed on and off a bench and squinched his eyes at me, and she pointed out that when Frances was Clark's age I had a two month old and had just moved half way across the country. Oh right. I guess we weren't hanging out at the mall. My mom said Frances was indeed this much fun, I just missed it. Yup, I did.
Today, though, Clark and I were at Home Depot and it's christmas there, all the inflatable yard art displayed. It reminded me that I used to take Frances there when it was too gross to go to the park--to get out of the house and look at the yard art and christmas trees. (Ah, the simple pleasures.) As Clark and I were leaving he stepped into a little shed they had displayed and stomped around inside. I leaned in the door and said "boo" and he laughed and laughed. We had a great time. And that reminded me of being at Costco with Frances--another regular outing of ours--when I was pregnant with Clark. They had some very similar sheds displayed and we played the same game for all kinds of time, in no hurry at all. This must have been during those few weeks after I stopped working but before Clark was born. She was fun. And every bit as charming.
I used to worry about this discrepancy in my mothering, worry that perhaps Frances is difficult because of my anxiety and Clark is easy because of my lack, but I think that's backwards. No, they are different kids tempermentally, and I can't help but react to them differently. Truth is that my temperment is more in harmony with Clark's. And that's just something that is, just part of my story and each of theirs.