I knew it was bound to happen, I knew that one day, my sweet boys would want to stop snuggling and start getting rough. I knew that they'd push me away and insist that I stop kissing them in public and stop making them do baby things, but I didn't know that it would happen so fast. I didn't know that I'd soon be replaced by Dad. I guess not replaced but not favored? Not always needed?
Maybe it's because we were gone for six months away from Eric and they are making up the time, maybe it's because they are at an age where they will start to identify with men or maybe it's because Henrik is "big now" and Theodor desperately wants to be like his big brother, whatever it is, it's starting to change our family dynamic.
More and more the boys are interested in what Eric is doing. They've been fascinated with him showering, to shaving, to using the bathroom. They are interested in what he wears, what he does and who he talks to. They mimic every part of his daily routine, and it's adorable. I hear things like, "Daddy taught me when you pee at the same time it's called swords" or "I need to get this so I can build it with Dad" or "Daddy's Home!"as we pull in the driveway, and I can't think because the car burst out like a Grand Slam just occurred in our front yard, and when the boys ran in the house and couldn't find daddy (he was working out) they burst into tears! One day I told Henrik I wanted to change his shorts because they didn't match his shirt very well and I was told, "No. These are my special shorts. Daddy put them on me and I'm never going to take them off."
Even Theo has jumped on board, he wakes up each morning and just wants to be with Eric. He comes down stairs as Eric is getting ready for work and insists on a pick up game of hockey in the living room before Eric has to leave. Theo will bring a book to Eric and say, "Dad-e-o read dis book?" and look at Eric with a cocked head and a wide smile. Theo will then leap into Eric's lap even before Eric can answer.
One morning Henrik jumped in the shower as I was getting out and I decided to let the boys play in there while I was getting ready. Henrik said, "Mom, can you get me some soap?" I went and got their "No More Tears" soap and handed it to him. "Uh, no. I mean can I have man soap? I'm a man now you know. Like Daddy." Both boys insist on wearing their towels around their waist, like Eric. And, just the other day, I asked Henrik what he wanted to be when he grew up, (we were talking about different jobs people in our family had) and he replied, "a grown up. Because, they are big, like Daddy".
It's not that I don't like the change in the role reversal, in fact, for the 27 days that we've been in Colorado, Eric has been the only bath giver and bed time doer. I've been taking the opportunity to take a break and unpack a box or two, clean up the house and put away dinner as Eric does "Dad duty" and gives me what I call "alone time". It's been wonderful, I think I pushed for it in the beginning and Eric welcomed it as he too wanted to figure out what these boys were all about (they've changed so much since the last time he saw them). And now, it's just normal, Dad puts the boys to bed and it's the most comfortable thing in the world for them. Tonight, with Eric out of town for the day, I was the one to put the boys to bed. Honestly, for the last six months I put them to bed every night and I dreaded it. I hated the fight about bath time, cleaning up the splashes, getting them to wind down and even the fight to sleep in their own beds. But today, it was different. I'd had a 27 day break and tonight as I stroked their hair and watched them drift to sleep, I was able to enjoy it and fall in love with my boys all over again in a way that only happens when you see your child so comfortable, so at peace and so in love when they are asleep. I get why Eric loves it so much. I see, why it was SO important for him to have that time with them these last 27 days, and why it will continue to be important for him to do.
Eric never really got a lot of time with our boys. He worked 4,000 hours a year for four years in North Dakota, he rebuilt a house, we were gone, and when the boys were little I breastfed exclusively so he never got that bonding time. He never really said much about it, but now that I've had my break from bedtime, I realize how much he missed out on. I see his proud and somewhat cocky smile as he silently comes down stairs pumping his arms like he just scored the game winning goal. I see his smile as he talks about how big the boys are or how they did or said something that he hadn't heard before. When Henrik used "well" instead of "good" in a sentence (properly I should add) Eric's jaw dropped in shock and then quickly changed to a proud smile. When Theo hit a slap shot across the room, Eric was in disbelief, but man, could I see the light in his eyes. I see these awesome achievements in my sons daily. And it's not that I'm not impressed by my boys, it's just that I'm always there. I'm the one teaching them these things (well, not the hockey, Theo has a natural talent for sports) and I'm the one pushing the boys day in and day out to say "excuse me" if I'm talking to an adult and they need me. Or to pick up their toys, or share, or use "well" instead of "good"and "yes" instead of "yeah". I do see some changes in them where I realize they aren't babies any more, but I don't see the awe all the time, and it makes me sad, but at the same time, it makes me so happy that Eric gets to experience it.
I know Eric is learning a lot about his boys, and I know the boys are loving every minute of being with their dad as they learn what men do, but I'm learning too. I'm realizing that sometimes it's important to step back so you can be thankful for what you have (and I swear, I really know how wonderful my kids are). I'm learning that it's important for the boys to have their dad in the picture, even if it means I take the back seat to playtime or even sit quietly in support of Eric as he puts them in time out for something. I understand in a few years I'll lose out to football Saturdays and car races, but I know that Eric is finally getting the time with the boys that he deserves. I'll always be their mom, and I'll always have a special bond with them, but it's time now for them to really get to know their dad and for Eric to know them. And I'll happily sit back and watch the exchanges and joy they all have together.