Friday, October 12, 2007

The one where Mean Mommy answers Bon's questions

I'm participating in my first blog meme (I didn't know the word either, mom) -- a list of five questions about you presented by another blogger. One of my very favorites, Bon at cribchronicles, whose blog is (and should be) kinda famous, did me the honor of providing my questions (because I asked her to). Apologies in advance because I think I might be long winded about some of them; they're provocative questions.

The first question: There are four offspring in your family. How has each child changed you or impacted you as s/he came into your life?

I'm going in birth order, so I'll start with Bailey. Bailey Boo, Booper, Bailes, Bailey Wailey.

The first time I met Bailey, she was barking. The summer I met John, he and I both worked at this upscale Italian restaurant, and he had a major crush on me, so he came by the restaurant on his day off on some false pretense (really to see me), and he brought Bailey with him. She was 3 years old, with huge brown eyes, long, dark eyelashes, and these adorable blunt cut bangs. She was pretending to be a dog. Loudly.

I tried chatting with her, but she would only yip. I admired John's manner with her, and I thought she was a darling, funny girl. I didn't see really meet her one on one, as someone in her dad's life, until months later.

After John and I had dated for awhile, including a few months of my living in Mexico, he invited me to come along with him and Bailey to the State Fair. She largely ignored me until it was time to leave, and she was unhappy about going home. I found a little stuffed animal of hers in the front seat and, while she sniffled and pouted in the back seat, I made him peek around the head rest and then dart away when she spotted him. We played peek a boo with the little stuffie until she was wracked with giggles. From then on, she was my buddy.

Bailey did change my life, but more slowly than my others did. Our relationship developed by degrees; I tried hard to be sensitive to her position and to the fear, anger, and resentment she might feel towards me as I got closer to John, and I didn't force myself on her. By the time John and I got engaged, Bailey was as much a part of my life as he was. By then, I not only wanted to spend my life with John, but I couldn't bear the thought of Bailey growing up without me.

Bailey taught me many of the lessons first time parents learn: that even the best laid plans are subject to upheaval; that the magic of childhood is revived in the lives of your children, allowing you to experience it all over again in a much more exciting, fulfilling way; that "sacrificing" for your family is not sacrifice at all since there's nothing you'd rather have; and that her dad was someone I wanted to have more children with.

One rainy Saturday when Bailey was 7 years old, we were home watching a movie, Air Bud, I think. As I lay on the couch, this overwhelming feeling of exhaustion washed over me, a heavy tiredness, weighing down my bones. I slept through the movie. That night, John was planning to make spaghetti for dinner, but when he took out the Italian sausage he planned to put in the sauce, the sight of it made me ill. Later, I drove to the drug store and bought a pregnancy test. It was positive. It was Owen.

Next installment (still on the first question): How Owen changed my life...


Bon said...

there's nothing like thoroughness to make one feel appreciated!

this is really interesting, Ashley...having grown up as someone's stepdaughter, i've long been interested in the perspective of moms who inherit an elder child when they enter a relationship.

Bailey sounds lucky to have you, and i look forward to hearing about the rest of the crew.

slouching mom said...

What a wonderful stepmama you are! (I speak from experience with one not so wonderful.)

And I never realized it until now, but Owen is just a month older than Jack.