” I am ashamed. I’m ashamed, I’m ashamed, I’m ashamed.
And I’ve been on a loop for a week. I took my two little ones to school. The big one, Enzo, tripped, and I let go of the stroller to catch him. Marcel was in it, the stroller slipped and hit a car – admittedly, when stationary, parked, we were safe on the sidewalk, but still. Everything was fine, more fear than harm, but the rest of the way, I was petrified: I had to choose between my two children, and I chose Enzo. Ever since Marcel was born, I’ve had this kind of old doubt running through my head… I adore Marcel, of course. It’s my son. But it has always been less strong, less intense than Enzo. Enzo and me, it’s magic. We understand each other immediately – sometimes I feel like he’s in my head. And then he’s so nice, so sweet… Marcel, he’s a cannonball. It is called “Taz”, like the Tasmanian devil, which destroys everything in its path. He’s really funny, and cool, but he’s a bulldozer… Who gets angry quickly, who rages, who kicks into the stretches, and I admit that I have quite a bit of patience with that, it’s not at all in my temperament… Fortunately for him that Jérôme, my husband, is there. For once, the two understand each other very well. But I feel guilty to death… Could it be that, quite simply, I prefer Enzo? Even if it means putting Marcel’s life in danger? -Ophélie, 38 years old.
“Eh, eh, eh, Ophelia…
You didn’t “put Marcel’s life in danger”: you were on a sidewalk, and in the corner of your head, the parked cars certainly acted as a safety barrier. He wasn’t going to end up in the middle of the street, and somehow you knew that. Otherwise you wouldn’t have let go. What allows me to affirm it? You are writing to me. That you wonder. And that you are sufficiently attentive and attached to him to ask yourself if you are, with him too, a good mother – because that is, after all, the subject.
Not all mothers question themselves. And yet, no, the link to the child is not obvious. Contrary to what they try to make us believe, women are not programmed to be mothers. Technically, most of us can get pregnant and give birth, that’s true. But that’s all. And the most complex, the most mysterious, is played out elsewhere: in our experience, in our beliefs, in our expectations… Who were you when Marcel was born? Where was your marriage? I have three siblings. Ask us to describe our parents to you, and you’ll feel like we’re talking about eight radically different people – spoiler: they were only two, it was the same for all four. Enzo comes into your life and he makes you a mother. Everything changes with him. With him your identity, profoundly, will be transformed. That, whatever you do, think, hope, you won’t change a thing. Enzo’s place is that.
So yes, it inevitably gives an intense, even tripal bond: its birth is a foundation of who you are today. And then you are alone, face to face, with him, during the nine months of pregnancy, and then the four months of maternity leave, and then the first years: the merger is possible. It never is with the second, for the simple and good reason that you will always have the first in your paws – except to forget it on a motorway rest area, but I don’t think that was in your plans. . He is all the more so, in your paws, that he sees your belly rounding out, he hears the crying in the bassinet, he knows his modified space-time: there is one more element in his equation, everything has to be rethought. For him, as for you.
He can, moreover, at first, experience it quite badly, and you have no doubt seen the gentlest being in the world throw himself into tantrums that you would never have imagined – if they are not tantrums, then tears, unknown until now, stupid things he had never done, but everything to recover his mother’s attention, which he must now share. You, you have a couple to consolidate, a body to rebuild, nights again avowed… So: who screwed up the mess in all this nice balance that you had managed to constitute? Taz, of course. And that, sometimes, you might want to blame him for… Without ever daring to formulate it: you know it’s not fair, you know he didn’t ask for anything, and that, if he’s there , it is the fruit of your desire, and of your will. And so… Who’s the mean mother who’s mad at a little boy who’s done nothing wrong? You – at least you think so. But who is the little boy with the busiest mule? Enzo. Like all elders. They have the to-do list, they have the criteria to fulfill, they have the objectives sheet: it is on them that we project the most. So, very often, they are the ones who are the most like us. Compensating for shortcomings, and filling in gaps, that’s what awaits them, in the middle of barrels of love, from their first hours on earth… In short, they do the job. And the following, in general, have peace. And the space, in a less fusional bond (but no less good), to become more freely who they want to be.
To tell the truth, I’m not sure that being so close to your mother that you live in your head is the best way to be able to breathe – you can do it, don’t worry. But this complicity, which you mention, as nice as it is, can also be an obstacle… Marcel, like all the cadets, had to fight to find a place? Good for him. In the playground, he will have to make a place for himself. In the group of friends, on the terrace of a café, in the open space, he will also have to: he will know how to do it. What I’m trying to tell you, dear Ophélie, is that the reality is much less Manichean than you might think. And let everything move. Enzo may, one day, be much less accommodating than he is, for reasons that belong to him – a mistress off the mark, a lover who dumps him… And Marcel can turn out, at this moment- there, the nicest of the little boys – all the more easily as the place of the “nice” will be left vacant. Don’t freeze them, Ophelia. Let them grow and surprise you. Let the bond grow and surprise you. Trust yourself. And kiss them good for me. »