Sunday, October 19, 2008

Under each other's skin

Tonight while trying to wrestle Loaf’s feet into her shoes, she sat in my lap kicking and flailing, alternating between going boneless and twisting her body into knots – making a simple task incredibly challenging. She did not want to put them on - did not want to go, and she was letting me know in every way possible. Suddenly, she lifted her body up, turned her head toward mine and placed her lips on my cheek. I thought she was going to kiss me, or maybe even lick me dog- or cat-like, but instead, she bit me.

Not hard. Her teeth barely closed on the soft of my cheek before I reacted – swatting her face away with my hand. It was completely involuntary – a reaction to the sensation of teeth closing on sensitive skin - but I hit her (lightly) on the face.

I also let out a pretty loud yelp. The combination of the swat and the yelp startled her and finally she sat still in my lap while I put her shoes on all the while lecturing her about why we Do. Not. Bite. Ever.

But she didn’t cry. Not even a tear.

Until I roughly stood her up on her own feet and stood up myself. Meanwhile, Mark, standing nearby admonished her, “you really should apologize to Mommy right now.”

And the combination of that, along with my abrupt abandonment, did it. She dissolved into a fit of deep, sobbing tears. Her whole body shook with sadness.

“I’m s-s-s-soooo so-wwww-yyy, M-M-Mommy. S-s-s-sooooo sowwwwwy.”

It struck me then that the act of pushing her way – of physically rejecting her - had been far more upsetting to her than my swatting and scolding her.

Loaf is much more physical than Peanut. She longs for closeness and human contact, particularly from me. She’ll sometimes follow me around the house like a lost puppy dog and “help” me clean or fold laundry. She sits on my lap and hugs my leg and asks to be carried or picked up even if we’re just moving to the next room.

Before bed, she wraps her tiny arms around my neck and squeezes tightly before begging me not to go, to stay, to get my book and sit in her room and read until she’s asleep. Then, sometime in the night, she’ll crawl into our bed and snuggle close to me, burrowing her head against my shoulder.

I have a confession.

I don’t really mind any of this.

I love both my daughters with such intensity it causes me to ache physically from the inside out.

But Loaf. I can’t explain it. She is wrapped extra tightly around my core. She’s woven a little more deeply into my soul. Maybe because she’s my last baby? Her milestones trail Peanuts by a couple of years, and I know that once they pass there won’t be any more first steps or first words or first days of preschool.

It took about .0003 seconds of her standing before me weeping and apologizing before I scooped her into my arms and stroked her face and told her it was OK. She clung desperately to my shirt, sobbing, while I rubbed her back and whispered assurances in her ear that Mommy was mad, but despite that, I still love her so very much and always will.

My heart broke listening to her sobs. I wrapped my arms around her and we squeezed each other tightly. Mother and child. The 3-year-old and the 39-year-old. Both taking away a deeper understanding of love thanks to the other. Neither wanting to let go of the lessons of the day.



Anonymous Kimmylyn said...

You post made me get teary eyed.. parenting is such a hard job sometimes.. (even if it is on accident how your events played out).. I love how you say you love your kids so much it hurts from the inside out.. beautiful wording in this post.. beautiful.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous xup said...

“She is wrapped extra tightly around my core”. Interesting. Interesting. As a mother of only one I’ve always wondering if I would feel differently about a second or third child if I’d had them. I ask women all the time and they always tell me they feel exactly the same about all their children. I’ve always found that hard to believe since children are all different – have different personalities, different needs, different hearts and minds, so it doesn’t make sense that you would feel exactly the same toward them. Thanks

4:25 PM  
Blogger Mayberry said...

This is SO how I feel about my littler one too (in fact I posted about it recently). I can't explain it and it doesn't take away from how I feel about the older one--but there's just something about him.

12:16 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...


8:49 AM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

xup - I wouldn't say I love Loaf more or that she's my favorite. I truly do love them both immensely. But I do have extra weakness when it comes to her. I'm sure it's partly because she's the baby and partly because her personality meshes more with mine. It's hard to explain.

I don't think most parents like to think about this because it does come close to declaring a favorite and truly, that's not what it's about here.

7:24 PM  

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