Life has been hectic. I’m a rag doll, limbs stretched out in all directions. I can only stretch so far, and yet, I’m managing. I’m parenting 3, teaching 22, nursing 1. Maintaining friendships, my marriage. Attempting (and failing) to maintain my home. Pushing tasks off due to daily exhaustion, and never going back to take care of them. Disorganized.
And so many nights, after the kids are all sleeping soundly, I wonder – did I even kiss my fast-moving twins tonight? Did I ask them about their day or did I move them through the motions of dinner, pjs, bed? Did I coo at the baby and give snuggles? Or did I just hold him while giving directions, making the twins’ dinner, etc?
Today was no different. In fact, my daughter was extra challening. Lately she’s been owning the term “threenager”. Not content to let her twin run the show anymore, she’s fighting back and holding her own. I’m thankful she’s assuming her own identity and sticking up for herself. But she’s turned into a sweet-talking firecracker.
What did she tell me the other day? Oh – “Mommy, you need to listen to me when I’m talking to you.” And “You need to do what I say.” She’s sassy.
She’s also, still, a people pleaser. She greets the baby to get him to smile. She pets the dog because she knows it’s a nice thing to do. She loves to make others happy and is willing to sacrifice her own happiness in order to grant it to someone else.
That’s her signature trait. The one that gets me, both with pride and fear. She puts aside her favorite things, foods, etc. in order to let her brother have them so that he can be happy. Because C is happy when B is happy and when there’s no conflict.
She’s happy in ballet now. She has “friends”. She giggles and wants to hold their hands and she talks to them like they’re babies and she’s they’re loving mommy.
Nothing brings her more pleasure than dessert. One oreo, a few marshmallows – she can’t contain herself. She’s, 95% of the time, filled with joy.
But tonight was in the 5%. Too much sass came with a consequence – no episode of her obsession, Peppa Pig, before bed. That snowballed into many other small issues and she couldn’t keep it together. Endless crying, real sobs, in hysterics. It went on and on.
And I had a long day too. As we shut their bedroom door tonight, she was still sobbing in her new bed. She called out and I opened the door, about to say my usual, “I’m going downstairs, it’s time for sleeping.”
But for whatever reason, I walked to her and she said, “Stay with me for a little while. Please, Mommy.” Was she stalling as she is known to do? Maybe. Did she still need me in that moment? Yes.
On my knees on the floor, with my head on her pillow, inches from her face. Our heads together, she rolled towards me and touched my cheek. As I held her, she calmed down, sighing, still puff-breathing from sobs. She held onto my earlobe. A few giggles.
“I love you.” (Heart melting into a puddle).
“I love you because you’re my favorite. And because your ears are squishy.”
For once, not rushing (it helped the baby was already sleeping), I stayed until she didn’t need me anymore. I gave her twin some snuggles too, as he honked my nose and told me I was cute.
I left them both 15 minutes later, happy twins, ready to face the inevitable sleep.
As for me, my daughter completely recharged my batteries. My patience meter. I stopped my whole life in those minutes just to hold my child and listen as sadness turned to content and then giggles. It was delicious.
These moments are fleeting and I really could use them more often. But this is why I am a parent. A Mommy. There’s absolutely nothing better. And tonight I can thank my daughter for a wonderful moment.