Parenthood is a marathon. It's not a sprint.
It's an ever-evolving take on the future.
Planning, planning, planning.
Promising, promising, promising.
And some execution.
With my eye on the future, I write this post.
A day in the life, I suppose.
Ammunition is what it really is.
Hi sweet girl.
I spent last week away from you- not unusual.
Mother Nature stretched it even further than usual.
Nothing we haven't been through before.
So- I missed Valentine's Day. It's just a day, right Hallmark?
I mean ... I missed Halloween this year, too.
I'm becoming an Absentee Holiday Parent.
It's the worst.
It's the life.
When I finally made it home, Daddy handed me your sleeping heft in the middle of the night. You were a sweaty mess, completely drugged up by nocturnalness and a long, busy week. You weren't coherent enough to give me the Valentine you'd made, even though you made him swear on Syracuse he'd wake you up, so I tucked you in and whispered to you ... that I was there. I'm sorry it took so long for me to catch up. I just got stuck, I whispered, a line from one of my favorite novels and movies.
Saturday morning the sun came up and so did you. All was right in everyone's world that February morning, in the 8 o'clock hour. I'll never forget your face.
And since you woke up that morning, you have been more than my sidekick. You have simply been my side. As I shower, you lay on the bathmat waiting patiently. As I take laundry out of the dryer, you're right behind me, handing me errant socks. As I apply mascara, you're entwined between my legs the way you used to do when you first learned to walk. I prefer to do my reading on the love seat due to its proximity to the sunniest window the house offers, and I have been sharing my nook with you ... you're literally cramping my style, but you're indefinitely worth the pain my muscles feel. Up and down the stairs I sprint, your feet quicken behind me. I just need Mama Time, you admit over and over, as if asking for forgiveness instead of permission.
When you were a baby, I'd give you your last bottle in your darkened room, rocking you in the rocker your great-Grandpa R. made. Your little chubby hand would always work its way up my neck, or under my camisole strap. Skin on skin- any restlessness you had would then dissipate when you made that contact. I catch myself remembering that exact touch more and more.
When I tucked you in last night you said you didn't feel good. It's not like you at all to delay bedtime with excuses. You've always owned your defiance- stating with 100% honesty why you weren't interested in sleeping. I asked what I could do for you- handing you a bucket. Just stay with me until I calm down. Let me sleep with you. Let me stay.
Ah. Yes, that makes sense. Three straight days of you and I with little to no breaks and here we were on the cusp of going back to our days separately. My heart splintered. I laid with you awhile, smoothing your hair, humming pop hits to you. You lost the fight and passed out. Quiet for good.
When I eased you awake today, you launched right back into the litany of perils you felt.
Daddy offered to stay home with you but I assured him you'd be OK. Mama's instinct I suppose.
As I buckled you in, I reminded you that if at any time during the day you felt bad and needed me, I could be there in two shakes. You nodded solemnly. How many hours 'til I get off the bus? I told you. I would be waiting.
I have already admitted to not being able to protect you from everything life will show you. It will go down as the thing that rips me apart. That keeps me running near hysteria and my anxiety level sky-high. But that's life, and I am certainly not the first mother on this planet to experience her heart walking around outside her body. And I won't be the last.
So I tell you the story of our last few days of union with the intent that when life gets big and ugly, and I am your target or antichrist or reason, you'll summon up the memories we've made this month, when the only thing that mattered to you was me and how many steps it took to reach me.
You have a heart bigger than Texas and your Mama's sentimentality.
I trust you'll always know the exact number of steps that cover the expanse between you and I.