It didn’t actually sting when Levi told me that he loved Mommy more than he loved me. It’s not because he was in a fever induced delirium that I was able to disregard his mumblings as nonsensical. Truth is, I know what he means. Gabriella’s kind of mothering is easier to love than mine. I’m not fishing, mind you. I only engage in one kind of fishing and it doesn’t have to do with compliments or high-waders.
In our house, Gabriella is the nurturer, and I’m the mom who gets the job done. On school days, I literally drag the older boy out of bed, and he’s half-dressed before he is semi-conscious and can stand on his own feet and finish the job. I rush downstairs to make breakfast and prepare lunches. I hurry the boys along to finish their meals, growing impatient as I herd them out the door to get to the bus. After school, the focus of my job is schlepping to activities, feeding them dinner and monitoring homework. Homework is usually unpleasant at best. The 9 year-old loathes homework especially when homework is even the slightest bit challenging. His resistance to homework does not bring out the best in me, and there may be cross words exchanged by the time he’s finished.
By the end of the day after I’ve also done laundry and given the boys baths, I’ll admit that my flavor of motherhood tastes more like drill-sergeant than Mary Poppins. My kids need more than a spoonful of sugar to get my medicine to go down.
When Mommy comes home from work, the boys are ready for bed and need only a story and a hug before they see her again the morning. We co-parent on the weekends when our schedules are slightly less demanding, and there is little to no homework. Even so, if Gabriella were home during the week instead of me, I am certain that her operations style would not be as rigid or impatient as mine. She is naturally a more relaxed person. That’s why I married her. I needed that chilled-out Yin for my high-strung Yang.
Now, I tell you about our set up not to kvetch but to paint a picture – a picture Gabriella and I designed together and one that we choose to maintain. I like the way I manage our lives, but I know that I’m not always so warm and fuzzy.
Everyone expresses love in a unique way. Gabriella and I both cuddle and tickle and laugh and play and read with the boys, but there are plenty of differences I’m sure they recognize already. Gabriella shows love through food – cooking for and cooking with her children. I show love by helping our kids establish habits that will allow them to be independent one day. Gabriella shines when they need comforting. I shine when there is a crisis.
Yesterday, I took Levi to the local Care Station because our primary care doctor was off for the holidays. Gabriella was home with a cold, so it was understood that I would take Levi while she stayed at home with Asher. We waited together for a very long time while he nuzzled into my body too tired and weak to remain upright. He had been suffering a fever for days and had most recently broken out in a rash that turned his entire body a blotchy red. We waited for what seemed like hours though I’m sure it was probably no more than 30 minutes, but any amount of time was an eternity for Levi who just wanted to be in bed. When we finally saw the doctor, he diagnosed Levi with strep, armed us with a prescription and sent us on our way.
It had started snowing while we were waiting to see the doctor. It was a mess outside by the time we left. I slowly passed one car collision only to get stuck in standstill traffic at the top of a hill. “I CAN’T BRAID!” Levi screamed a few times before I realized he was telling me he couldn’t breathe. “Almost home,” I lied. We waited for a while I distracted Levi with details of a return trip to Disney World we had not planned to make any time soon.
We sat for 15 minutes without so much as an inch of movement. I chose to turn around and brave the unplowed side roads. Here is where I must insert a plug for the WAZE app. After contacting another WAZE user, I learned that cars had driven off the road ahead of us, so I used WAZE’s alternate route. The ride home was downhill treachery, but we managed to slowly make our way back. I spoke to Levi throughout our journey with soothing words of diversion and convinced us both that we were going to be just fine. Finally, I returned Levi to his bed only to head out again for his antibiotics.
When I got home with meds in hand, Gabriella was lying down with Levi in our bed. “Do you want me to lie down with you, too?” I asked. “No thanks, Mom,” he said. You can go because I just love Mommy more.” I had delivered him to his cuddly mommy, and my job here was done. I walked into the other room where Asher was watching television and sat next to him. “I love you, Asher.” “I love you more, Mom.” “Impossible,” I said.