I started writing this post in my head yesterday afternoon because I thought it would be cathartic because you took a thirty minute nap and after that thirty minutes of blessed silence I walked into your room (you alerted me to being up by banging very loudly on your door) and found you had torn down your curtain and broken the curtain rod in the process. I tried counting to ten. I tried deep breaths but really, I was so angry. Angry that it was clear you had never gone to sleep. Angry that it was raining for the fourth morning in a row and I couldn’t get you outside so you could run around and burn off some energy because you are part dog. Angry that you would do something so destructive and then have the gall to laugh at me when I walked into the room. So I took the offending curtain and rod out of your room, told you to get on your bed and then said, “Timeout.” Even after those two minutes ticked by I was still so angry that I took the time to tell you how disappointed I was in you. You spent the rest of the afternoon telling me that I was very disappointed in you. That really made me feel better.
The rain stopped for approximately an hour so I took you up to Red Butte Gardens in the hopes of getting you to run around (see dog comment above) and we did get some fresh air but even a trip to Red Butte, which usually cheers me up immediately was punctuated by moments of wanting to scream at the top of my lungs as you pushed my every last button. Just when I thought I couldn’t take another second, you sidled up to me and said, “you are my best friend mama.” This is not a new or particularly original take on parenthood. Every parent knows that all too familiar feeling of wanting to walk away in a cloud of frustrated tears one moment and wanting to die of the cuteness the next. It is impossible to keep being angry when you are being so sweet but it is so hard not to get angry the next moment when you are disobeying me once again. Staying in the sweet moment is so difficult.
But somehow the Mothers’ Day commercials made me cry even more this year than usual. I realized as I surreptitiously wiped away tears when the commercials played on the television at the gym and tried to make an escaped sob sound like I was working out even harder that I am more of a mother this year than I was three years ago; so much more and I have so many more miles to go. I carry many more battle scars and have so many more stories from the frontlines than I used to. But I have also learned – and continue to learn and remind myself sometimes on a minute by minute basis – that no matter how many times I roll my eyes and curse the clock that it is five hours until bedtime I will make it through another day. The tantrum will pass, bedtime will come and I will get up the next day and the next and the next and much of it will all stay the same but so much has changed and will continue to change. You go to sleep on your own, you are starting to learn how to get yourself dressed and are ecstatic when you can get your shirt on without my help. You can “read” entire books to us and get upset when we try to read them to you. You are an amazing talker and can usually tell me what you do and do not want to do in no uncertain terms. You even swear sometimes in perfect context. If I am annoyed and say, “Are you kidding me?” you will sometimes supply a “Goddamn it,” delivered in a breathy tone. I try not to react and remind myself again that I must stop swearing around you. It is so hard.
Do I fall down on the job? Dial it in? Let you watch another episode of Thomas when I should sit down and play with you? Yes, absolutely. But do I wish I was working and feel unfulfilled in my role as your mother, guardian, teacher, kisser of hurts, dictator and enforcer of rules? No. You have allowed me to be a mother and without you I would not be the person I am today and I mostly like the mother I have become.
So, in spite of all the things you do to annoy me – surely not on purpose right? – I found myself sobbing on the way to the airport last week as I prepared to leave you and your dad for the first time since you were born. Your father was a nervous wreck and I was suddenly wondering why in heaven’s name I thought that leaving for five days was a good idea. But the trip was great for a variety of reasons, an excellent one being that you seemed to finally discover what a fantastic playmate your dad can be and you are head over heels in love with him. For the longest time I don’t think you counted him as someone to play with and now whenever I tell you that I cannot do something that very moment, you turn to your dad and say, “c’mon Dad! c’mon! Come downstairs with me!” And when you get up at some ungodly hour (it was 6.30 this morning) you come upstairs and ask, “Where’s Dad? Can we go see Dad?” I explain to you that your father is resting and deserves a good night’s sleep before having to deal with annoying lawyers all day and this pacifies you for awhile but you squeal with delight when he walks into the living room. You have a new best friend and it makes me so happy. And so while your dad held down the fort at home, I went to New York and to my 15 year college reunion at Smith where I wandered the campus in a bittersweet daze smiling at the graduates and their parents and being simultaneously grateful I had my life at home to return to and longing for the days when I was 18 and life was pretty damned easy. However, one of absolute best parts of the entire trip was talking on the phone with you, which is something I’ve never been able to do before because you recently learned how a phone works. You got on and the sound of your sweet voice saying, “Hi Mama! This is my train Mama! This is the toy bus Dad gave me Mama! I love you Mama! I miss you Mama,” just about killed me. I sat in that empty dorm room and realized that even if I could have the chance to go back to being 18 and young and carefree, I wouldn’t take it because my life is infinitely better with you and your dad and that realization was the best Mother’s Day gift I could receive.