Ups and Downs of Parenting
I hear her voice through the tiny monitor speakers. It’s 7am. Right on schedule. The first words I hear her say every morning: “Hi Mommmeeee and Dadddeeee!” She is happy and excited and so full of cheer. That is how she starts her day. And mine.
I open the door to her room and greet her. “Good morning, my love.” At this point, it could go either way. “I want Daaaaady.” So THAT’s how it’s going to go today. From full of cheer to full of whine.
I rise above. I propose a thrilling, pajama-clad trip downstairs to collect some laundry before we get her dressed. It’s an offer she can’t resist. Extra pajama time is a sure smile-maker. I scoop her up and down the stairs we trot. Cheer once again.
It’s time to get dressed. Pants are the enemy. She aches to wear her pink shorts. I ache for shorts too but it’s going to be a cold, rainy day today. Summer is over. Long pants are a must. And so we battle.
Somehow pants are on and it's breakfast time. We share breakfast. We chat about what her day might hold and I know that this will be the most precious moment of mine. A small interlude between getting ready for the day and the day actually starting. Happy, peaceful.
Up, up, up.
Nanny and neighbors arrive and it’s time for me to leave. I ask for a hug and kiss. Then I linger. Then I ask for another round. She obliges every time. She'll miss me too, of course, but she knows my mornings need extra hugs and kisses. I close the door behind me and walk quickly to my car. I don’t want to hear her settling into her day without me.
Back home again and I haven’t even opened the door but I can hear her inside. “My Mommy! My Mommy is home!” Her greetings lift me up above the low points of my day. She is happy to see me and she doesn’t care who knows it. That’s pure, baby love.
We settle into our afternoon. All is going well. Until it isn’t. And the tantrum erupts. It spews screams and tears. It refuses to be controlled. It resists comfort. There is always a secret word that will distract the angries and make it all stop. But, oh it's been a long day and I just can't think.
Down, down, down.
Somehow, the tantrum stops erupting. We're eating dinner. SHE is eating. On her own, with her own utensils, without having to be reminded put food on the fork and return it to her mouth. Family dinner. We made it happen.
Up, up, up!
And now we play. For 45 fleeting minutes each day, we get to live in the worlds she creates. She gives us a check up with her replica stethoscope. She makes us pancakes with her miniature spatula. We drink 'tea' out of tiny, purple cups. It’s a beautiful little world. I don’t ever want to leave it.
Up, up, up, up!
But leave it we must, and off to bed we go. Bath time is 90% fun and 10% don’t-you-come-near-my-hair-with-that-cup-of-water-because-if-I-get-one-tiny-driplet-of-water-in-my-eyes-I-will-SCREAM. And SCREAM she does. Like we're hurting her. I worry the neighbors can hear and are calling authorities. Screams and tears are spewing again. Every trick in my bag of tantrum stoppers is powerless against a wet baby.
Down, down, down.
Dry her off and let her run down the hall. Then it’s pajama time again. Group hugs at the end of our night. She snuggles as we squeeze her between us. We say goodnight.
“Goodnight, Baby. Sleep well! See you in the morning!”
“Goodnight Mommy! Sleep well in the morning!”
Before succumbing to sleep, I sneak into her room. I rest my hand on her back and feel the rise and fall of her breath. Quiet. Peaceful.