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Love is a Complicated Thing

Ottawa, May 2014
Ottawa, May 2014

“Feng…”

“Mmm?”

“Do you think Mark likes me?”

“Of course he likes you! Which kid doesn’t like his mother?”

“Well, I’m pretty sure Freud had issues with his. So did Oedipus. And Hitler probably didn’t like his mom much either—not that he was a normal balanced person but…”

“You’re just being silly. If you wanted something for Mother’s Day, you could have said so. I offered!”

“Nah. I don’t want anything from you. And he is too young for noodle necklaces or whatever shitty arts and crafts project his teacher will pick.”

Really, it wasn’t about Mother’s Day. It was about a magazine I flipped through at Chapters (yes, I know, I have to stop doing that). It was a Mother’s Day issue, where—duh—mothers were being interviewed about their precious snowflakes.

“My daughter is my best friend!” professed one. “I realized lately I love my son better than I love myself,” claimed another.

And the next twenty pages or so were full of stories of the mom who gave birth in a tree surrounded by crocodiles in Africa, the one who literally stopped a bullet by standing in front of their kid and the one who overcame so many odds to get pregnant that I was all teary by the time I was done reading.

Meanwhile, I am hiding my good Lindt chocolate eggs in the fridge because I’d rather not share them with Mark. Okay, for the record it’s mostly because he tries to eat the wrapping paper and makes a mess with the chocolate eggs (gotta eat it before it melts, buddy!), but still.

Love is a complicated thing.

When I learned I was pregnant, I was mostly shocked. It was a strange feeling because we wanted a child and Mark was definitely not an “accident” but I couldn’t believe that I had gotten pregnant so fast and that I would soon be a mother. It was kind of a “oh, it’s my turn to jump off the diving board?” moment.

I couldn’t wait to meet him, though. For 38 weeks, he was always in my mind whatever I did, everywhere I went. I tried my best to take care of him, even though it felt very frustrating because at this stage, you can’t really control what’s going on inside—you pretty much have to hope for the best and let nature works its magic.

Mark and I bonded right away. It felt right to feed him, hold him and cuddle him. I have never been a baby person—I tended to avoid holding them because they looked so fragile, so small. But it’s different when it’s your own flesh and blood. Even though Mark as tiny as newborns get, I’ve never been afraid to pick him up.

I read somewhere that babies cannot differentiate themselves from their primary caregiver. Basically, for the first few months, what’s mine is theirs.

Unfortunately, I am very much past this fusional stage and I didn’t always enjoy being a human pacifier. Even now, when Mark clings to my legs as I’m busy doing something else and crave attention, I tend to lose patience. Especially when he had all my attention all day long.

This pretty much sums up my relationship with Mark. Like two characters of a telenovela, we hug, play, have tantrums, throw things and hug again—well, he is mostly the one throwing tantrums and objects…

I miss Mark when he isn’t there but I can’t wait to get a break from him when he is with me all the time.

It used to be like this with Feng. I remember, the second trip we took together in Australia and in New Zealand, back in 2003, I started craving “alone time”. After months of sharing everything and being together 24/7, I needed some time alone, no matter how much I loved him.

One thing that surprised me with Mark is the almost primal instinct to protect him. Not for the little things—it doesn’t exactly break my heart when he bumps his head (“I told you not do to that!”), trips and falls or get a scratch. I was a bit of a tomboy myself, these are normal when you explore the world.

But sometime, I just need to “save” him from the evil of the world. Like the night we were in Montreal and discovered our hotel room had bed bugs. I went nuts. I scooped him from his bed (he didn’t have a bite, his bed was fine), moved him to the other room we were given and slept with him as if my body could repeal all the creepy crawlies.

I can’t call Mark my “best friend” because “best friends” don’t suck your energy like vampires and leave you exhausted at night. Friendship is a two-way relationship and for now, I give Mark more than he can give me. Most days, I feel like a performer after a long set when the crowd chant an “encore”—“I gave you everything I had, no more!”

Some days, I just wish he could tell me he loves me. It would make things easier.

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