I have a confession to make.
I cheat on my son, the Juban Princeling.
There, I said it.
The thing is, and this isn't an excuse so much as an explanation, I'm just not feeling like my needs are being met by our mother-son relationship. I believe that infidelity in a relationship is generally caused by one of two things: either one or more parties are incapable of maintaining monogamy, in which case they need to be upfront about it; or else one or more parties are not fulfilled by the partner(s), in which case they need to talk about it and perhaps go to therapy.
I've posted before about how the Princeling just isn't the cuddly type. At first that was OK because he was a newborn and newborns don't typically respond much to anything except to cry or poop, or in my son's case, both at once.
But as he's gotten older I've tried to reason with him. A kiss on the cheek here. A hug there. Maybe a little snuggle while we watch "Plaza Sesamo" before bed.
And, to some extent, he's gotten a little bit better. He'll run over to me and go through the motions of giving me a kiss goodnight when his father puts him to bed. This usually involves him either taking out his pacifier and opening his mouth in my general direction, or sort of nodding his paci-full mouth in my general direction.
For a while I thought he had finally started asking me for hugs when he'd turn to me and sorrowfully hold his arms up at me. But it didn't take long to realize he wanted to be picked up for the sole purpose of playing with some light switches or pulling a ceiling fan cord. This had less to do with me than it did with his need for playing with built-in home wiring systems. Hell, anyone taller than he currently stands is fine with him for this chore. It kind of makes me feel used and unspecial.
The first time we went to our regular Thursday morning Spanish-language music class he would not be separated from me at ALL, which would have made me feel loved and special except that, a)I paid $10 so that he could dance and play with pint-sized instruments for 45-minutes, not be carried around the room while I bounce with him in my arms to the beat of "La Bamba," and b)after the first class, once he realized he wasn't about to be left on his own to cope with the bossy 4-year old girl and the colorful pom-poms by himself, he wanted nothing to do with me at these classes.
Other times while I do yoga on the floor at home he might plop himself into my lap while I open my hips in Baddha Konasana. Like a sucker, or like Charlie Brown trying to kick that football that Lucy's holding, every morning I'm sure that today is the day when he'll sit in my lap for a while and we can enjoy some quality mother-son time together. I stop my pose and focus on the sweet little boy who has come over to say hello.
And then two seconds later he gets distracted by a toy or a book or a magnet or a dust particle and off he goes, leaving me to pretend like I'm not disappointed as I finish up my sun salutations.
I've tried to come to terms with my son's personality and the fact that he's just not a snuggly guy. He's the offspring equivalent of that one guy every woman has in her past who was totally not into her, no matter how many nice things she did for him and no matter how tight that shirt or how short that skirt was that I, I mean she, kept wearing around him hoping that he'd finally get his beautiful head out of his perfectly-formed ass and ask her out on a proper date but he never does. HE NEVER DOES! The Princeling is almost 20 months old - when will I realize that he's just not that into me, at least not in the way I'd like him to be?
He doesn't snuggle, he doesn't give hugs, and he doesn't like being held except when it suits his purposes.
One night when we were down in Florida he cried after we put him to bed, so I went to give him his paci so he'd go back to sleep. But he didn't go back to sleep. I picked him up. He wrapped his arms and legs around me and rested his head on my shoulder.
I was speechless.
My son...gave me a hug!
In his sleep, yes, but still!
Rather than putting him back down right away I rocked him back and forth a little bit and tried not to weep with satisfaction. When I got back to my mother-in-law's guest room I told my husband about it. "Wow," he said, "You're really desperate for affection from him, aren't you?"
Yes. Yes, I am. And I'm not embarrassed to say so.
Which is why I've had to cheat on him.
I hug other toddlers. I pick them up. I sit them in my lap and wrap my arms around them and bury my face into their necks. I play with them.
Not only is the Princeling not phased by any of this, he actually seems relieved, as if he's saying to these other kids, "Better you than me, sucker!"
So if you're reading this and your toddler is a "hugger," please email me, because I want to invite you over for a playdate.