Not a doll or a sleeping baby or a sweet, smiling face in a picture.
She’s a little tiny human. With little tiny human needs. And little tiny human wants. And while some of her wants and needs pale in comparison to the needs and wants of bigger humans, they are, at the time, pretty huge in her pretty tiny little world.
And it’s exhausting to be her world.
Especially when her world just had a tornado come through and send every toy in the house flying from one corner to the next. And my world is tired of tripping and kicking and picking up.
Especially when all she wants to do is watch TV and it would be so much easier to just let her do it than to encourage her to play with her dolls. Or sit down and build a tower with her. Or hold her lid while she colors with markers.
Because inevitably, I will become the doll who must eat the food and cover up with the blanket and pretend to go night night and wake up! a million and a half times.
And there’s no doubt that the second I get my tower built she will run and knock it over and scatter blocks across the room. And laugh.
And there is a pretty stinking good chance that if I look away for one second she will color on herself. The floor. The wall. Her clothes. The TV. The couch. Or all of the above.
In my desperation to be a good mom with just the right balance of participation and independence, caretaking and teaching, relishing and releasing, I’m sometimes just tired.
I’m short with her. And she refuses to listen. I easily get irritated. And she delights in doing exactly what she knows she’s not supposed to be doing. I want peace and quiet. She wants to whine and cry. I want to take a shower. She wants to scream my name with tears streaming down her face for fifteen minutes straight.
It’s exhausting to be her world.
The older she’s gotten, the more expression I see on her face when we interact. I see her taking it all in. I see her thinking things over before she does them. I see her seeking permission with her eyes. I see her start at my sudden outbursts when she refuses to stop after I’ve said stop four times. I see pain flash across her face. Or guilt. Or mockery. Or just bare, naked rebellion.
She’s two. And it’s all out there for the taking now.
Her world is all about her… and her tummy and her diaper and her shows and her toys and her ‘right now’. And yet somehow in the middle of all her independence she is growing increasingly wary of being away from me. If this is her world, then I am her sun. The light by which she sees and does everything else. God forbid I disappear from sight for one second. God forbid I get too close. God forbid I get too far away. God forbid I flare up. God forbid I don’t respond at all. God forbid I don’t be all about her.
In the morning when she wakes I’m the first person she finds. When she wants breakfast, she whines at me. When she wants to watch her show, she hands me the remote. Unless daddy is anywhere near… because he seldom hesitates. I hesitate on occasion… to which she cries. At me. When she wants someone to play with her, she pats the floor and looks at me. When she wants to go outside, she runs to me, points at her foot and says, “Go!” When she’s mad, she hits me. When she’s tired, she whines at me. When she’s starving half to death, she hangs onto me. When I’m not fast enough, she lays on the floor and cries under my feet. When it’s naptime, she tells me “nooooooo!”. When I walk out and tell her to rest, she screams my name pitifully. And when she wakes up an hour early, I had better be ready to be her world.
Exhausting, I tell you.
when she’s hurt, she wants me. When she has just said a new word, she looks proudly at me. When she puts her dishes in the sink or throws something in the trash or picks up her toys all by herself, she runs back to show me. When she is scared, she buries her head in my shoulder. When she’s sick, she falls asleep on me (sometimes). When she wants to read a book, she curls up in my lap. When she wants to share her snacks, she shares with me. And when all the world is right and beautiful and fun and full of wonder…
she’s usually right beside