There’s this brilliant quote floating around out there. I first heard it from my friend Tara and I love to pretend it was originally said by her since she’s an exquisite writer. However, another brilliant writer named Elizabeth Stone said it:
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Early last week, Scarlet and I got into an argument one morning. It was over something stupid, probably – her desire to wear whatever the heck she wants, my desire that she doesn’t wear a hooded sweater and corduroys in a predicted 80 degree day. Who can tell what the argument was about? What happened is that we both raised our voices. Not terribly, but a little. She, because she’s 2 1/2 and hard-wired to raise her voice and combat my sensible decisions. Me, because…I was stressed about money that morning and I’m so tired trying to chase after her while gestating her brother. I just wanted her to not wear a sweater on a summery day. I got more upset than I should have. I was not playing with a full deck of cards. Getting up on her terms and not mine. Getting up with allergies. Getting up with stress because I stress easily. You might notice.
She must have been feeling the tension too. She burst into loud tears. Then she said something that just..burst my heart into a million pieces. She said, “I..just want you to be happy!!” And, man. Said by someone her age, it’s not said the way it’s said by a husband, a parent, a friend. This was her way of telling me that my mood change was highly noticed and that it crushed her. She wanted her happy, loving mom back. She was scared, I think. Maybe not of me, but of my mood. “I just want you to be happy. Again.” She repeated.
I have replayed that scene in my head a hundred times since it happened, and the tears never fail to come.
I have been feeling very emotional towards her lately. I mean, I always do, but this recent bout seems a bit too harsh and unfiltered. Pure heart-cutting heat. I don’t even think it’s pregnancy hormones, which people love to tell me it is. You are free to ask my husband but not once in this pregnancy or last, did I (or he) suffer any mood swings or changes. Sure I wasn’t a whole lot of fun for those nauseous seven weeks in which he’d find me facedown with my head in a pillow, the toddler running free in wet underwear, while I told him he couldn’t under any conditions cook himself any kind of food I could smell…
Those weren’t fun times. Other than that, I’ve said it before. I am a so very un-pregnant pregnant woman. I have a telltale bump in my stomach and that’s about it.
Anyway, it was just a week. I think the heat was the trigger. Heat. In March. And my daughter would come home from school with these adorable ponytails. She never used to let me do ponytails but the teachers at daycare somehow found a way. And she looks..incredibly grown up with a ponytail. And she’d have these rosy cheeks all day from being warm and stimulated and playing outside twice a day.
And on Friday morning she woke up at 9:30 am and sat talking quietly in her crib. When I walked in to get her she said, “Oh, hi. I was just thinking about Han Solo and Luke Skywalker and R2D2 and CP3O (how she pronounces it). I want yellow yogurt. But…How are you? I love you so much.”
I can’t make this stuff up.
And this was the week we found out there was a slot open for her in all three preschools we applied to. I told her that too. I ran to the mailbox like a high school senior waiting for college acceptance letters. A letter from the last of the schools was there. The envelope was small. I was disappointed. Then I realized that this was Nursery School, and not Rutgers University. Small was ok. Sure enough, she got in. I told her and she said, “Great. Can we go to the park now?“
We also went out to lunch after the park. She was adorable in her pigtails, UConn Huskies dress and mismatched rainbow socks/red shoes. Everyone stopped to talk to her and I kept thinking, “Yes, this goddess is mine. Mine. How lucky am I?” Two men stopped to talk to us and she looked down, in incredible shyness. I said, “She’s shy.” Later she waved from her carseat to a trucker in the lane next to us. He didn’t wave back. I honestly don’t think he could see her through the tinted windows and maybe he was, you know, watching the road like he should be doing, but she said, “Mama, I think he’s shy.“
She’s so damn independent, I can’t take it. On that same day she was going to her grandparents for the whole weekend. She was excited. They were excited. Heck, Cassidy and I were excited too, or so I thought. When it came time to nearly let her go, we were lying together on her bedroom floor and she just kept laughing. I don’t even know what was so funny. She just laughed and laughed. I heard her grandmother come into the house and I wasn’t ready to let her go. I kept still on the floor while she ran to greet and sail into her grandmother’s arms. I got tears in my eyes. Then like a flash, she was gone.
She grows up fast, sure, and I know people just love to say, “Enjoy it. It goes by so fast.” Not really. It can be slow and dreamy too. There are times in between the flash of life passing by in which I can hear her laughter while tickling her on her bedroom floor. I can do that 20 times a day. Sometimes I do. I don’t consider that as life moving fast. I never have.
Our time as a family of three is fading away. I’m getting more possessive of our weekends together. I’m closing my heart, temporarily, to much more travel or house guests. This is our time with our girl. There is time in a day, an hour, a minute.
I wear a sometimes painful and always raw piece of my heart outside of my body. And pretty soon, I’ll wear two.