My toddler turned into a teenager today. You should have seen the look of disgust she gave me when I didn’t realize that “baw” did NOT in fact mean “ball.” Silly me. It was downhill from there with her glaring at me and pushing me away, and then screaming my name if I got too far from her…
So I did what any self-respecting parent would do. I hugged her, smiled, said “I love you” and then walked away. But not without snapping some pictures of her looking at me in disgust or irritation. It’s what anyone would do. Right? Life is a mixed bag of tricks, most of which should be captured by my camera.
Sometimes I think I don’t have enough patience to parent a toddler. Actually, I know I don’t. Patience is a wonderful virtue that I’ve been sorely lacking for most of my life. Got my hair cut too short? A normal person would accept it and move on. I spent months gazing longingly at long, flowing hair and wishing mine would grow faster. See a dress I like? I can’t wait for a day or a week like a normal person, knowing if it’s meant to be mine, it will be mine. I literally will need to go to the store that very instant, even if it’s 9:00 pm and the store closes in 30 minutes and the store is 25 minutes away. I am insane for instant gratification. Or I am just insane. Just ask my friends how crazy I got about Scarlet’s bald spot growing in. She used to sleep on her back all the time and rubbed a nice, big can-be-seen-from-space circle of her baby hair off. And please don’t get me started on her scar fading. Oh. God. Seven months in and I’m not at peace with the waiting yet. In due time.
I could never, ever be a teacher or a tutor. It would take all of my reserve not to shout, “You still don’t get it??? Are you stupid???” I’m not even kidding and I so wish I were because I think teaching is one of the best professions out there, if not the best. I remember every teacher I ever had, both the inspiring, amazing souls and the wicked witches of the east. They leave a mark. So do nurses and I could never, ever be one of those. Unfortunately, I’ll have to find an alternative way to leave a mark on the world.
Sometimes, I’m sitting here blogging and the words are flowing like lightning and I can’t stop and look up for even a second. And I can’t answer the phone or even simple questions asked by Cassidy. Sometimes when this is happening, Scarlet shoves shoes and boots into my arms in some weird game she created in which I take the boots and shoes and she says, “Thank you.” This is usually followed by her asking me to open her cereal container after which she closes it and then asks me to open it for her 15 times in a row…sometimes when all of this happens, I want to scream. I don’t ever scream but I want to.
On days like today, I’m really just not feeling it. And nightfall comes way before I’m ready, even though the days are getting lighter. The bursts of inspiration are dormant all day long.
I used to think there was a magical switch that goes on the second you become a mother, or even during pregnancy, that enables you to be 100% selfless and put your child and all children first. I learned fast that it isn’t like that. Or maybe my switch has faulty wiring and turns off a lot. I’m not magic. She falls a lot because of me. When she has cookie goop or crusty cottage cheese on her face or her mouth, my instinct is to run far away. When her nose is running and I’m wearing my Nordstrom coat and she runs into my arms to give me the biggest bear hug possible..I sometimes shift myself so that her nose isn’t buried in my coat. She hasn’t been sick to her stomach yet, but I imagine I’ll try to convince Cassidy to deal with it. I’d like to believe I’ll be strong about it…but probably not.
I’m still awkward and uncomfortable around most kids over six. When I used to babysit, I’d get bored after endlessly playing games and reading. I thought things would be different when I had my own kid. And mostly, it is. But then there are days like today when I’m just not feeling it and it takes every bit of strength not to plunk her down in front of the TV and go off and read by myself. Not all days are like this, but they do happen. Usually in winter.
At night, she was back to her old cuddly self. She said, “Dada come home now?” And then he did. Before bed she said, “I love you, Mommy.” “Hug.” And so we did.