Wednesday, July 1, 2009

sometimes it's like this

You are sitting on the dining room floor, shaking your index finger as hard as you can - nose-to-nose with an equally angry toddler. You are saying NO NO NO and she is jabbering back at you, eyebrows furrowed together, lips jutting into a pout, her fingers splayed before her, desperately trying to grab the chair an d push it over backwards.

You are standing on your driveway watching your girl explore the terrain. So far you have stopped her from eating gravel, dead leaves, a cast-off iris bulb, a particularly interesting clod of dirt, and the neighbor's cat. You try to let her learn, but there are some lessons too costly, some things that just shouldn't be done within the mama's eyesight. She sees that you are watching her and she crouches down for a closer look at something wriggling on the ground...

You drive one-handed. The other hand reaching back to her car seat, jiggling her leg - telling her we'll be home soon soon soon, don't fall asleep, don't fall asleep, DON'T FALL ASLEEP! At the traffic light, you turn to assess how deeply she has fallen into an ill-timed nap. A nap that will surely take the place of a much more restful and long nap at home, in her own bed. Her head is dropped to the right. Her fingers still clutching the bright blue radio you tossed to her ten minutes ago in a vain hope that she would fight dreamland to keep playing. If you could only reach the handle---- maybe you could---- start up the music---- get her to wake up---- and as you fail to grasp the radio, the light changes and you turn back to the business at hand: driving home.

You are rushing through the family room as your little girl naps fitfully upstairs. You have ten minutes to get this room in shape before something else needs your attention: cat, phone call, dishes, checkbook, email, laundry. There are broken bits of cracker underfoot and you do your best to gather up the biggest pieces with your fingers. The rest will have to wait until later, when the little one is awake and fully able to be terrified of the vacuum cleaner. You're a kind mother that way.

You are playing with her blocks. By yourself. It was supposed to be a joint venture, but after a million grunts and waves and tugs on the bag that houses the blocks---- when you finally relented and pulled them out to play, your little one took one look at the blocks and decided that the fistful of discarded cat hair she eyed in the screen door was MUCH more entertaining.

You are doing everything you can to be helpful, to be patient, to be the kind of mama that she wants to run and kiss. The kind of mama who understands that it's not easy being a toddler. The kind of mama you really truly want to be. But sometimes, sometimes it's more like this.


Rose said...

Aw, you described the life of a toddler (and being her mother) perfectly! As usual, Alice is ADORABLE!

Kate said...

So true, every single one.

serenity now said...

Is it possible to ever be the kind of mother I want to be? I have to tell myself no, it's not possible. I can just do my best. Otherwise, I go crazy from the guilt. Maybe that's just me . . . Your toddler scenes *are* so true. I could identify with each one.

Spadoman said...

An old Native friend of mine once told me this:
"My life is not my own."

I listened to him explain that he was called to do this and that and he never could refuse the people asking him for his help and support. That and the fact that he was a parent and an uncle and Grandfather. All these things made him be available to do what he knew his duty to be, serve the family. As I listened to him talk, it was some time later that I realized he was telling me how I must live my life, as it is not my own. His lesson sticks with me and your daily frustrations and attempts at getting Alice into a situation that suits you more than her made me think of this lesson.
I'm not scolding you, but I am suggesting that you take the steps as if you don't own your life, and that you are the one to shape Alice into being. That might mean that you will enjoy the moments that are your own when you get them, even though they may be few and far between.
All these words and I know you are wise to this and realize it already. I just wanted to have something to say.
Funny, but it's summer now. In September, I will be home to get Grand kids on the buses for school and be home when they get home. My life will not be my own again, years in between stints as a caring Dad and a useful Grandpa.


clueless but hopeful mama said...

Yes. Just, YES.

kately said...

several comments here ...1) I rescued Shelby from eating several cigarette butts during our walk the other day (could anything be more disgusting???) 2) Does Alice come toward you looking like she's going to give you a big hug or kiss only to realize that she's interested in what's behind you and she wants to crawl OVER you to get to it? I am a means to an end: "pick me up, mommy, so I can get over HERE". I want a hug somtimes for hug's sake, not a hug so she can be transported somewhere in the room far more interesting than I. 3)I terrify my child with the vaccuum cleaner, too. You're not evil. Sometimes mommy's gotta do what mommy's gotta do. 4) I love the "baby back-talk" - totally cracks me up how serious they are, telling you exactly what they're irritated about that you're doing - but not one recognizable word comes out of their sweet lips. It's all I can do to supress the laughter.