One of the most formative movies of my only-somewhat angsty adolescence was Reality Bites. I may or may not have freeze-framed Ethan Hawke, Patron Saint of the Grungy, Complicated, and Soulful, as he smooched an elfin, pre-grand-theft-charged Winona Ryder as they were finally reunited after a much more angsty montage to the tune of U2’s “All I Want Is You”. In addition to the totally bitchin’ music (Juliana Hatfield 3 with a side of Lisa Loeb), Reality Bites has affected my vernacular more than any other film. There’s a reason other than his love of trains that Elijah has heard me say: “Let’s locomote”. Anyways, there’s a scene where a down-on-her-luck Winona gets escorted around Austin, Texas (I think that’s where the movie takes place) by Ethan Hawke’s character on a tour of all the places he has been fired from in an attempt to make her feel better from her recent firing. Eventually one of them says something like, “This is all we really need: a couple of smokes, a cup of coffee and some good conversation. You and me and five bucks.”
It was what I was thinking about as the Bean and I went on an ice cream date yesterday. Although not the cigarette or coffee part. When I first got home with Remy, we worked really hard to make sure Elijah got Mommy Time. He still gets it, but maybe not as often: we’ve all been very busy and maybe we haven’t made it as much a priority lately.
A lot of people have sweetly continued to ask how Elijah is doing with Remy. And they have been playing pretty well and genuinely seem to enjoy each other’s company-note the totally voluntary hand-holding pic below as evidence. They like playing chase games and being tickled by us and have even been known to share on occasion. But Elijah still gets upset sometimes for what seems like no reason; the reason often turns out to be frustration over having to share our attention with Remy. So yesterday he requested some Mommy Time, which we gladly obliged. We only had about an hour before Joe had to go back to work, so we ran down to Milk and Honey-literally. When we were almost there, Elijah stopped abruptly and said, “You are always my Mommy, right?” To which I answered, “Yes, of course”. I hope my voice didn’t reflect any of the ache in my heart when he asked that. We watched some trolleys and had a lovely ice cream break (chocolate and mint chocolate chip, thanks for asking. The only sorbet they had was lemon, and really I mean, why even bother??), and then it was time to go home (where Elijah announced that he didn’t have a daddy, only a mommy and that Remy didn’t have a mommy, only a daddy).
I know it’s important for me to go to my yoga classes, to take a breather, and to have some me time. But I have to remember how important it is for the Bean to have Mommy Time. Someone described it well when I was describing how we try and give Elijah so much attention and yet it never seems to be enough: “You have to look at it from his point of view. Any amount of attention is only going to be a fraction of what it used to be, which was 100%.” Point taken.
I have no idea how my friends with lots of kids manage to give them each the attention they need. (Friends with lots of kids, feel free to chime in with how you do it!) I also know that eventually, Elijah won’t need that Mommy Time so much, won’t crave those moments with just me. And then I’ll be the one who needs just a bit of time with him, who asks him to take a break from his friends or sports or whatever he decides to pursue. It doesn’t take a lot. Not even five bucks.