As Jaybird acquires more personality, he’s increasingly opinionated, which I like to say he gets from me. He screams loudly if, say, we take away an object of his affection. Like the nail file, which he grabs, noms, and then gags on. Or a plastic bag, or cup of coffee, or the cat’s tail. “No” is entering our collective vocabulary and I have visions of a toddler-chasing, tantrum-soothing future. This stage is fun, too, as he’s more and more interactive and playful, giggling, curious, affectionate. He’s starting to reach his arms up when he wants to be held (or get a better vantage point) and he’s also starting to show preference for people. Stranger anxiety enters the picture if he’s tired. He’ll lean out of another’s arms towards one of us, which is cute and I’ll admit makes me puff up with pride. Though he often shows preference for Uno, especially at night – I’m talking wailing and lunging towards her. It seems he lights up most when he sees her face. And I’m jealous! I tell myself not to be ridiculous, as does Uno, but … hence this post.
Right now we’re visiting her family; it was a last-minute blitz of a trip, because her grandmother is turning a very old age and all concerned wanted her to spend quality time with J. We’re under her parents’ roof, therefore, where J is the star of the show. And because there’s a baby in the picture, there’s extra scrutiny on us. That whole gay thing, you know? J is the first and only male child of this generation in Uno’s proud Southern Baptist family. Everyone is very polite to me, don’t get me wrong. And her parents are more open; in fact, we get along pretty well, despite having fairly different values. But I feel like some extra appendage: that Nice Friend of Uno’s who’s really very good with the baby, now isn’t she? Perhaps I’m being too sensitive. It’s funny when it’s what people don’t acknowledge that stings more than what they actually say.
Anyway, being here, for me, puts a spotlight on J’s preferences. I want nothing more than for him to reach for me in front of great-grandma. Then I think, gah, my child is not a pawn. Worst is that I’m overly aware of a six month-old’s every little smile or seeming sign of disinterest, and I feel sad when he’s not comforted by me, or what have you. Uno and I have often talked about how focusing on my parental insecurities only highlights them and does none of us any favors. I wish I could just turn them off. Sometimes I do. But the stakes feel higher when we’re around extended family. I’m extra aware of their genetic connection to him and my lack of one; they take “four generations” photos and talk often about resemblance, etc. The latter always makes the donor a kind of elephant in the room, to boot, and while I’m happy to bring him up with friends (as in they say, “his hair is so light,” and I say, “well, the donor had light hair in his baby pic”), I would never do it around Uno’s relatives.
There is so much to say on this subject; I need to reflect more. But it feels good to vent briefly. I look forward to returning to the north!