Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm the one that she wants

When I was pregnant with Loaf, I worried incessantly about Peanut. She’d been the center of our universe since the day she was born. How would she feel when the baby arrived?

I remembered what it was like to have a newborn – Peanut’s arrival flattened me. I was wretchedly sleep-deprived and barely able to find time to brush my teeth, never mind feed myself or take care of the house. She refused to be put down – ever, not even for even a few seconds – so I held her constantly, including when she napped, making that old “nap when the baby naps (or do anything at all when the baby naps) difficult at best. A shower – even the briefest variety – was a luxury of epic proportions.

So during my pregnancy with Loaf, I worried. Actually, I obsessed: How would I ever have time to take care of a toddler – not even 2 yet, along with a newborn?

But somehow, some way, I managed. It helped that Loaf was a more easy-going newborn and that experience made me a more easy-going mother. I found ways to make it work. I learned to do everything – from make a sandwich to help Peanut get dressed - with one hand. I could nurse Loaf while walking around the yard following Peanut from one adventure to the next. I read Peanut stories while Loaf dozed on my chest. We managed.

In fairness, we did more than manage. We pulled through remarkably well. Before I knew it, Loaf was a toddler in her own right, wobbling after Peanut.

So here we are, nearly three-and-a-half years later.

Which is why Peanut’s meltdown at the kitchen table recently threw me for a loop. Out of nowhere, she was sobbing. One minute, she was happily eating her dinner and the next, tears were rolling down her face as she wailed: ”You never do anything with just me. Loaf is always around. I want to do something with just you.

I sat there, stunned, my fork halfway to my mouth.

Where was this coming from?

It is true, that Loaf gets more one-on-one Mommy time than Peanut. She only attends school three mornings a week, while Peanut goes all five. And even on the days they both go, I pick Loaf up at 11:30, but Peanut stays until 1 p.m. Loaf and I usually spend that 90 minutes at the library or eating lunch together at home.

I didn’t think Peanut was really even aware of the “extra” time I had with Loaf, never mind that she thought much about it. Clearly, I underestimated her.

I set my fork down and slid my chair next to hers. Wrapping my arms around I cooed in her ear and admitted that yes, it’s true, she doesn’t get as much alone-time with Mom as Loaf does, but that we’d fix that toot sweet.

So over the past few days, I’ve made an effort to spend some one-on-one with my Big Girl. I painted her toenails today while Loaf was occupied with a book and yesterday she “helped” me dig a new garden while Loaf was coloring. It's not much, but it makes her happy. Also, I know deep down the day will come when she'll recoil in horror at the idea of me painting her toenails. Hopefully these simple moments will fill and sustain both of us, now and many years into the future.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Elaine A. said...

So sweet. Sometimes we just need them to help us realized these things, huh?

11:08 PM  
Blogger Jennifer H said...

I get requests like that sometimes (and other times I have to untangle a knot of crankiness to figure it out)...it's great that she was able to tell you what she needed, and that's to your credit, I think.

Sounds like you're both having fun doing those things!

2:31 AM  
Anonymous Kimmylyn said...

It is amazing how aware they are.. I know my son does not verbalize like your daughter that I have to spend more attention on our little guy, but I can tell when he is going on missing mommy mode.. and then I have to refocus him by spending a whole day together.. it does help.. you guys sound like you have a beautiful relationship.. :)

9:42 PM  
Anonymous xup said...

As an oldest child I can totally identify with poor old Peanut. I used to actually love getting sick so that I could spend the day at home alone with my mum. Only once ever do I remember doing anything alone with her and that was one Saturday when she went to have her hair done and she let me come along (which was good of her since that was probably the only time SHE was ever on her own). It was a whole afternoon of sucking of perm solution and I didn't get to talk to her much or anything, but she sent me next door to the bakery to fetch some treats and we had tea while we waited for whatever was on her head at the time to take effect. It lives in my memory still. So... I'm just sayin'

12:37 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Aww, she just wants her mommy. I always wonder how difficult it is/will be to balance more than one child. How great is it that she is so happy with a few minutes here.

My mom used to give us each one day at the end of the school year that we could have her all to ourselves and do something fun while the other siblings went to school. Those are still some of my best memories.

2:41 PM  

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