Monday, May 23, 2005

drops of wisdom from an unexpected place






Here’s a link that made me think this morning. It cut through the buzz of the too-much-stuff-to-do flies that have been in my face since I got to work and returned me to a more important place. I say more important because to me, how I raise and interact with my daughter is much more critical to the world in general than my annoying list of stuff to do before our registrar gets here next week to audit our quality system.

One of my problems (and it’s a doozy) is my ongoing shameful affair with nicotine. Every time I jump back on the wagon without the aid of the patch, I’m an utter bitch for about 48 hours, possibly 72, depending on who you ask. I humbly admit that I am not a big enough person to keep this from infecting my mothering style. When I’m in that 48-hour fire zone, I’m not patient. I have a hard time remembering that Duckie is, after all, still a tiny little child, even though she can somehow take up most of our queen-sized bed. She doesn’t understand why she can’t go outside the yard by herself yet. She doesn’t get that turning the TV off during the last sixty seconds of Lost is really, really bad. She hasn’t a clue why throwing food on the floor makes Mommy so incredibly upset. She understands a lot more than she did a year ago, don’t get me wrong – but she doesn’t understand everything, not by a long shot.

When I’m so caught up in my own selfish needs, I tend to forget that. It’s as if the telepathic bond that helped me through her first year is now dissolving as she makes her unsteady way further into toddlerhood. I know this happens – it has to happen, for her to grow up, and for me to just grow. Our relationship has to change, just like every sturdy relationship does over time, if it’s going to survive. But I’m conflicted about it. Part of me thinks of her as a tiny grown-up kid, and another part of me thinks of her as an overgrown infant who has somehow figured out how to walk and talk. So there are times when my response to her actions gets twisted up in my perception of her, and I am sharper than I really need to be.

Then there are other times when I know good and well that she’s ignoring me, and somehow that sparks my temper, too. God help us when she hits adolescence.

I speak harsh words to Her Sweetness and she covers her face with her hands, then starts to cry as she realizes that Mommy has scolded her again, and for something she doesn’t even understand. I cover my face with my hands and start to cry because in that dark place in my heart, I wonder if I’m even fit to be a mother, let alone the mother of a sensitive growing-up toddler. Then Brian comes home and sees that we’ve had a rough night; he puts his arms around me and says soothing, appreciative words to me, parenting me, so that I can somehow manage to parent Duckie.

The next day is a little better, and I rediscover the hidden path to that deep well of patience I had lost track of before. There are kisses and giggles and bubbles, and we still manage to get the front porch clean, even if the laundry from Friday is still sitting in the living room, unfolded. And when Duckie goes to bed, there is her sweet voice repeating her favorite new mantra, over and over in every inflection she can think of: “Ma-mee. Ma-mee. Ma-mee. Ma-mee, ma-mee, ma-mee, ma-mee…” until she falls asleep.

Thank God kids are resilient. Thank God she forgives quickly. Thank God she’s finally started to express herself so that I can tell when I’ve hurt her tender feelings. Thank God for my husband, who quietly and gently suggests that I put on a patch to get through the worst of it.



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