The Other Mother

The other mother has a red convertible, knows how to fly a helicopter, never raises her voice, and has built a home full of magic and fairy tales. I didn't even know she existed until a few months ago, when E announced as we were driving home that he didn't want to go home to daddy's house but would like to be dropped off at his house.

"What are you talking about?" I asked. Tired and impatient, I was being blunt that evening, "Daddy's house is your house."

"No," E insisted, "I want to go to MY house."

"Fine," I relented. "Tell me about your house."

He pointed vaguely off into the distance and described his house, which apparently contained a large backyard filled with 5 cats and 5 dogs that loved each other and never fought. He had a Mom and a Dad {instead of us, his Mommy and Daddy} who let him have millions of beds in his room for all the friends that were always coming over to spend the night. He didn't have a bedtime, he never had to share with a sister, and the pantry was full {he illustrated with arms stretched as far apart as they could go} with 'millions of spaghettis and millions of ice creams!'

"That sounds cool," I said, marveling at his imagination.

I continued to marvel until he threw a fit that night, insisting that he didn't want to sleep here, but wanted his house. He missed his Mom, he explained. She loved him and he loved her and he wanted us to take him back where he belonged.

What the what?

I didn't even know how to respond to that. After hours of crying and screaming and kicking off his covers, he finally fell asleep as I held him and murmured things like, "I know, it must be so hard to miss someone you love so much."

I think that's when I started to hate the other mother.

E didn't drop it. He woke up bright and early the next morning and packed his little backpack, ready to be taken 'home'. I eventually convinced him that he was free to live wherever he chose as soon as he turned 18 years old, which to a 5 year old could be next week or next month, but not really that long, right? So he was content to tolerate us for a little while longer. He couldn't, however, help continuing to compare his current grueling living arrangements to the wonderland he had apparently left behind.

"See that red race car?" He'd shout as convertible passed us on the freeway, "My mom has that!"

or: "My mom lets me drive my own ice cream truck! And I get to eat all the popsicles I want to!"

or: "My mom bought me a real pirate sword and when I go back to my house we're going to find real treasure!"

or: "My mom doesn't make me go to church."

I know it's probably healthy. It's like having an imaginary friend {only on a grand scale}, someone who is always on his side, letting him feel in control when he's a very out-of-control little boy. I'm old enough to know that he loves me, no matter how many times he points out how much better his other mother is in his eyes. The fact that he shares all this so freely is a sign that he knows I won't abandon him or stop loving him as a result.

But still.

Every once in a while, I either want to throttle the other mother or go move in with her. It's a toss up.


The Dragonfly said...

Hilarious and disheartening all at the same time! As if we as moms don't already compare ourselves and think other mothers have their act together, your guy goes and gets a lady with a sports car! ;)

TheSpanishLady said...

That other mother is going down. And can I just say how awesome it is going to be to see that little boy grow up, He's such a character.

Ashley said...

That's a hard one. Hang in there! Maybe you could rent a red sports car just for a day and go out for ice cream!

Hizzeather said...

Maybe make him watch 'Coraline'? That will scare the other mother right out of him! :)

Good luck!

LisAway said...

That picture is magical. You always pick the greatest pictures.

My kids have never had this sort of amazing imaginary world. Or even less amazing. It's just awesome what he can come up with just out of his own mind. Smartie.

I think you'll find as he gets older that the other mother will merge into YOU as he realizes that he doesn't want anything else. But J will have to get you that red convertible.

In the meantime, maybe you can talk the other mother into coming and giving you a break now and then.

Miggy said...

Yeah...I think I would be a little perplexed by this. Not alarmed, but 'how do I handle this?' Of course your perspective is spot on. Supportive, loving and understanding. Like you said, you know he loves you and trusts you, otherwise he wouldn't open up so much, but it just reminds me of how much we love our children and how vulnerable our hearts are because of it.

And this mom needs her butt kicked. bad.

Apis Melliflora said...

In Coraline, the other mother turns out to be a giant spider. I have two moms and I have to say, it's pretty grand. But they are real.

I think you need to come up with the "other children" and discuss how perfectly perfect they are: snuggly, neat, always helpful, never whiny, rarely wanting to watch TV, eating vegetables with gusto, etc.

Tru Stories said...

This was one of my favorite posts of all time! Sounds just like my Tink.

mosey said...

When Sweetpea was five and I was immersed in a nightmare work project and not being the most patient mother ever (let's be honest), she would often say things like "I don't like you Mumma, I like my other Mumma" or "I would like a new Mummy and Daddy".

It didn't crush me - like you I reveled (somewhat) in her statement of independence and her imagination. For me, I tried to view it as a wake-up call to pull myself together, at least on the surface.

You have wonderful patience and listening skills.

~M said...

My daughter had a whole other existence...in China! She lived with Mrs. Rosa (sorry, but that sounds like Spain) who let her jump on the bed and smoke cigarettes. She was so earnest in her stories that I had to make a deal with her that if she wouldn't believe Emily's stories about China, I wouldn't believe her stories about kindergarten. :o)

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