Et tu, Isaac?

It was bound to happen, and now it’s official: Isaac likes Rachel better, too. Just like his big brother! At least this time, I was somewhat prepared for the sea change, having already had the experience of Rowan stomping all over my heart with his toddler feet before kicking it out the door.

So, it’s Mama non Grata all over again around here. Actually, it’s been this way for at least a full season. In the summer, Isaac was still chanting, plaintively, “I want Susan!” if anyone besides me so much as glanced at him. But now, he’s Rachel’s boy, all the way, and I have been relegated to a device designed to convey him to her.

Yesterday, for example, he woke up from his nap in what has become his new, signature style: bellowing from his big-boy bed, “I don’t want to sleep!” When I went to get him, he burst into tears at the sight of me and commenced with the “I want Rachel! I want to wake up with Rachel!” shtick. Since she wasn’t around — having taken Rowan to a puppet show — Isaac was stuck with me. And, let me tell you, he was none too gracious about that, and vented by telling me off resoundingly for idiotically getting him milk in a glass instead of a sippy cup.

When Rachel arrived home, about ten minutes later, he was still pissed. “I wanted to wake up with yoooouuuuu,” he told her, leaning from me into her arms and snuggling up on her shoulder. “Well, let’s go do that then,” she told him. And, in an act of what can only be described as overindulgence of titanic proportions, she toted him back upstairs and into his bed so that they could REENACT HIS AWAKENING. Except, of course, with her there instead of me. Jeez. Pun intended. They returned downstairs, him all smiles, not fazed in the least by my stink eye.

Oddly, Isaac’s newfound infatuation with Rachel means that I am the only one who can get him to sleep. If she tries to put him down for his nap or to bed, he becomes so overwrought with grief at the prospect of her leaving that she simply can’t, at least not without a vale of tears and 15 minutes worth of screaming.

Me? A couple of stories and a quick cuddle and, meh, okay, you can go. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, now.

In the middle of the night, if he wakes up, it’s up to me to get him back down. Which I usually do by saying, “If you just lie down now, sweetie, I’ll go see if Rachel wants to cuddle you.” By the time I’m back in bed, he’s fast asleep.

“At least Rowan likes us both the same now,” I said to Rachel this afternoon.

“Yeah,” she said, trailing off in that way she has that makes it clear that there’s more coming. “Except in the middle of the night.”

This is true. Even though I sleep closest to the door, should Rowan wake in the night, he will come into our room and walk all the way around the bed to Rachel’s side in order to get some Mama comfort. My theory is that Rowan’s habit is a combination of two things: first, he got used to Rachel’s presence in the night when Isaac was a nursing baby and Rachel and I pragmatically divided up the children according to who could most easily meet their needs in the middle of the night. Since I was the one with the milk, I got the baby, and she got Rowan. Second, Rachel does not mind sleeping with Rowan in his bed, whereas I, well, don’t love it so much. Not because I am a bad person, but because I prefer not to be elbowed in the stomach at regular intervals. Call me crazy.

Rachel’s theory is that she is nicer than I am to wake up in the middle of the night, which may or may not be true, but I will point out for the record that this theory did not stop her, two mornings ago, from rolling over at 5 AM and jostling me fully awake. “What?” I said, panicked, “What? Is it Isaac?” But by then she had already turned over. It took me a few seconds to realize she’d done it in her sleep. And then I lay awake until 6:13 AM, when Isaac woke up and I went to get him.

“I want to wake up with Rachel,” he told me.

“Yeah, well, I just did an hour ago, and it was none too pretty,” I told him. And we went downstairs to make tea.