It’s the second week of January, traditionally a depressing time of year for many of us. The holidays are over, it’s cold and dark out, our pants are tight, and the light at the end of the tunnel (AKA April) seems so very far away. I’m experiencing the usual seasonal depression I get every January, but this year I have the added bonus of being rejected on a daily basis by my two-year-old. For after spending two weeks in Daddy’s company — Drew took a lot of time off for the holidays — Jackson wants NOTHING to do with me. Nothing. Actually, it’s worse than nothing. I’m basically on his shit list and for no other reason than just plain existing (well, and to be fair: cutting his hair).
Do you know how depressing it is to have your son — your sweet, cute, little red-cheeked son — tell you to “go away” when you approach him for a hug? It’s more depressing than keeping your fingers crossed through a crazy-ass blizzard that school will get canceled only to get just a one-hour delay. Or, when you go to your son’s crib in the middle of the night because he’s crying and, when you get there, he says, “No Mommy! I want Daddy!”? More depressing than no more “Breaking Bad” ever. That’s depressing! Or, when the three of you are heading out for a big adventure, like a trip to the local playground because your life basically only revolves around morning trips to the playground and afternoon trips to the playground, and your son starts crying — like real tears! — simply because you’re coming along and ruining what would otherwise be a glorious, wonderful daddy-son bonding occasion? As depressing as an empty fortune cookie, that’s how depressing.
Drew likes to tell me this is just a phase. Easy for him to say! He’s the favored parent. “It’s just a phase,” he says, as I sit on the couch and sob into my hands. It’s Friday night and we just got back from our holiday trip the day before. I didn’t sleep well while we were away (I rarely sleep well in other beds that aren’t my own), and I had gotten sick and lost my voice and had my period. I was tired, I wasn’t myself, and Jackson’s constant and steady rejection of me was just too much. “It’s a phase,” Drew said again softly, like if he said it enough I’d believe him. Like if he said it enough times, it’d come true.
But this “phase” has been going on a long time. Even before Drew’s two weeks off from work. I can’t remember how long, but it seems Jackson has always favored his father. And I just… I just am to him. I’m just here. I’m just the woman who cleans the messes and prepares the food and does all the other invisible stuff that only ever matters if it’s not done and never when it is, especially to a kid. And that is more depressing than a birthday forgotten or a rip in your favorite jeans or getting to the bus stop a minute too late in pouring rain.
And to top off all of that, it’s January. And the holidays are over, and say what you will about the holidays, but I like ’em. I like the twinkling lights and the decorations and the cards in the mail and the shopping and the wrapping and the way there’s always somewhere to go and something to do and friends and family to see. And I like the pie. But what does January have? A big bowl of ugh, that’s what. Even my income plummets in January. After advertisers spend all their money in the 4th quarter and everyone does their holiday shopping through my affiliate links in November and December (and thank you for that, by the way, really), January is like the flat tire at the end of a century bike ride, that’s what.
But I’m going to make some effort to get out of this funk. Drew and I are changing some things up in our parenting so that I’m doing a little less of the invisible work and he’s doing a little more (like making lunches! Do you know how many Jackson lunches I made in 2013? 365, that’s how many). I don’t think that will make Jackson like me any more (or Drew any less, which isn’t the idea anyway), but it should help with my general feeling of burn-out-ness, and that, in turn, should theoretically make me a lovelier person to be around. I said theoretically, Drew, don’t get too excited.
Oh! And we’re planning a little weekend getaway, just the two of us. Just one night, really. Back to the same B&B we went last May. It’s 90 minutes outside Manhattan by train, and it’s on a farm with a spa on the grounds and a delicious restaurant across the street. And our room will have a fireplace. I kind of hope it snows. And I’m hoping to get to Chicago this winter, too, as is my tradition. I like to do a little mid-winter warm-up with my besties to help us all get over the hump of the season. And there’s a karaoke party on the horizon, as well. It helps to have things to look forward to.
I rearranged our living room furniture ever so slightly — I mean, there’s only so much you can do in a room that is really the size of a hallway — but I cleared enough space — I think! — to hula hoop. And since so many winter days are too snowy or icy or slushy or just plain cold to go running outside, I’m going to start hula-hooping in my living room for cardio exercise. (Little known fact: I am an excellent hula-hooper!) I think that will help.
Oh, but this phase, whether in January or February or in the bright utopia of May, just blows. When your own child whom you love so much and do everything for doesn’t even like you, won’t even look at you or hug you or acknowledge your existence except to cry and yell “Go away!”? It blows. I expected this from a teenage daughter. But a 2-year-old boy? I thought they were all supposed to love their Mamas! I feel like I’m the only mother in the world who isn’t adored by her little boy.
Ugh, that’s what. A big bowl of ugh.
Now, excuse me, I have to go look for my hula hoop.