Who’s calling the shots here?
Over the past month, I made the decision to move from one vaguely desirable yet completely cardboard part of Los Angeles to another. I made this decision based on several factors: being closer to friends and fellow moms is important, being closer to work is important, and being able to avoid the demoralizing, fly-brained web of L.A. freeways that currently take me from one part of town to the other is important (405, I’m looking at you).
I began to look at my intended new neighborhood, scouting out apartments and gauging the affordability of daycares. Safety (Dante’s) and convenience (mine) were the first priorities when I started my search. I began to feel confident that a move would be great for the two of us. I would be closer to work, closer to my friends (two of whom are professional nannies), and we would be in a better school district for when Dante fully departs babyhood to enter kindergarten.
As somebody who thrives — thrives — on change, I figured moving to a new place would do me some good on a personal level. Fresh starts, and all of that. This probably would’ve been the case, had Dante not thwarted my plans by being such a pro-social delight.
Last week, as I picked him up from daycare, his caregiver told me that she had something important to tell me (uh-oh — scratching? Biting? Kicking? Armed robbery? What now?).
“He’s really coming into his own,” she said.
Dante has never been shy. But when he first started going to daycare a mere five months ago, he was a little reserved as he watched the other children interact with one another. Thankfully, he has really taken to his daycare and everyone who works there. And just this past week, it seems he has really, fully, come out of his shell. He is giving people, even strange men (other kids’ dads … calm down) unsolicited high fives. He makes funny noises with the other children during story time. He doesn’t hug me with relished relief when I pick him up, but proudly shows me whatever toys he’s been using to pummel himself in the head. While I do miss my clingy baby, I am immensely proud of the strapping young lad he is becoming. Dare I say that he is well adjusted? No, not yet. He is my son, after all.
After hearing several recaps of Dante’s endearing antics, and after witnessing his friends try to babble his name when I drop him off in the morning, I realized that there was no way I could uproot my son and his well-deserved sense of security. If I were to move, I would have a very hard time matching the great deal I have on both my apartment and Dante’s daycare. It would be doable, but probably somewhat of a pain in the ass. What wouldn’t be doable would be watching my son readjust because of my own pursuit of convenience.
Yes, I would love to be closer to work. Yes, I would love to be able to see more of my friends without one of us whining about the drive to the “other side”. And yes, I would love to be in a completely new place with completely new neighbors and a completely new score of yapping, undersized dogs. But Dante doesn’t want or need any of these things. He wants security, happiness, and a calm yet firm attempt at routine that he can mess with for poops and giggles.
And so we aren’t moving. At least, not until something in my (or his) life becomes pressing enough to necessitate such a big change for someone so small. As a mother, my son’s needs will always come first. Sometimes — usually, in fact — these needs will force me to compromise my own. This is a good thing, especially when it means my toddler is inadvertently governing my tendency towards spontaneous reinvention.
Last night, I gave myself bangs because I could. Dante hasn’t said anything, so unless he’s a really good actor, I think I can congratulate myself on another successful late-night decision. Moving across town isn’t in the cards for us right now, but I’m thinking that he’ll let me know when it will work for him. Wait, who’s the parent here?
Virginia Petrucci is a freelance fiction and non-fiction writer, and a former model and actress. She has a bachelor’s degree in Theatre and English, and is pursuing further education in Psychology. She has a one-year old son named Dante.