The hubs and I have been married since May 16, 2010. It was a warm spring Sunday, but, to avoid the sticky heat and allergy-inducing pollen of the outdoors gardens, we married at 11 a.m. in a large alcove, our guests facing massive windows overlooking the treetops and nearby downtown locales. We had booked this beautiful country club that ran weddings around the year like clockwork…it even came with its own catering department and Lori, their talented resident wedding planner. The venue was intentionally alluring to our 87 guests with its strategic plush seating and an open bar and the ability to go and “smooze” on the balcony. Everyone seemed so comfortable. There were so many happy tears.
It was one of the happiest days of our lives.
Three years and one month later, I was induced into labor 16 days early with Jrue. He was born in the afternoon and spent those first hours post-evacuation with his eyes wide open. He glanced at grandma sleepily. He then fixed his gaze on daddy as daddy greeted him softly. Jrue blinked and yawned and blinked some more, adopting his blurry sight onto the guy with the familiar voice.
He was already watching daddy. But daddy was clearly here first.
Four years later, he’s still pointedly watching daddy, particularly every time daddy gets near mommy. The primary difference is, nowadays, Jrue readily questions and pouts and…protests. When it comes to daddy, there’s a lot of loud, dramatic…protesting.
Here we go. May I expound and provide examples?
The hubs will tell a joke in the kitchen and I’d cackle and, from the living room, Jrue will yell, “Stop that, daddy!” Daddy and mommy will sit on the couch while watching a show. Daddy’s arm can be casually slung over my leg. Our arms can be minutely touching coincidentally, parallel to the cushion. Jrue will stroll in, drop the play car in his hand, then rush over to lay his long body in my lap, attempting to push daddy’s arm away without explicitly pushing. The gesture he performs is somewhat of a sly, underhanded nudge with an accompanying whine.
Jrue doesn’t fool anyone. The hubs laughs it off. “Here comes your boyfriend,” hubs declares.
I roll my eyes and shake my head.
Recently, Jrue’s possessive jealousy has gotten him into trouble. To move attention to himself if the hubs and I are embracing, Jrue will physically launch anything he can grab across the room we are in. Last week, he hit both Jai and our poor flatscreen television with shoes he threw, promoting us to punish him with some alone time in bed. Most of the time, Jrue jogs over and tries to wedge his body between me and the hubs to prevent further hand-holding or hugs. He justifies this move with commands like “Stop!” and “Mommy, don’t do that” or “Noooo!” Sometimes, he will slap me on the arm or push aggressively at my backside. Sometimes, he’ll stand nearby blaring tearful wails as daddy laughingly wraps his arms around my back.
So. I seem to be experiencing the dreaded Oedipus complex. I learned of this condition in a college sophomore year psychology class.
According to Brittanica, the Oedipus complex is “a desire for sexual involvement with the parent of the opposite sex and a concomitant sense of rivalry with the parent of the same sex; a crucial stage in the normal developmental process.” The stage usually passes after age 5.
That’s at least another year that I must work to save this child from the potential wrath of his father.
The transition, however, is a normal one. Mom writer Emily Grosvenor discussed her struggles through her son’s categorically “loving” phase in a post for Salon. “The railing against his father was getting worse every day,” she wrote in her 2014 post. “My husband’s very presence was the problem. The second he stepped into the room, my son would bristle. Given an invitation to interact with his father, he wanted nothing more than to boss him around.” (Grosvenor, 2014)
What do I do to educate Jrue regarding how mommy and daddy’s relationship works, especially since he’s young? Do I “penalize” him for acting out on this natural inclination? Do I continue to enforce “nice hands” and “inside voices” like a broken robot? Will Jrue’s declaration of temporary warfare against his father last “too long?” I mean, hey, it’s already too long and we’re knee-deep.
The questions from this mother reflect the ones I now harbor regarding my “boyfriend” and his boxing match against my husband.
“Do you pull back?” Grosvenor asked in her article. “Do you try to love less? Make yourself less lovable? Do you scale back how much time you spend with your children and start going on as many dates as possible to show who has that part of your heart?” (Grosvenor, 2014)
This period must pass, hopefully, as quickly as possible. Though, I’m not sure I want to be traveling in any faster pace towards the next few tougher stages and towards eventual teenagehood, either.
Grosvenor, Emily. “My son’s Oedipus complex.” Salon, May 11, 2014, http://www.salon.com/2014/05/12/my_sons_oedipus_complex/