When I walked in this morning, she beeped at me. And I knew, within seconds, she was R2D2. I had one of her favorite breakfasts ready with her favorite juice. I played her choice of games, alongside her animals. I gave Penga the fish tiles because I knew it would make her laugh. While she was at dance, I picked up a new Winnie the Pooh movie at the library. I know how she likes Winnie the Pooh. When she wanted to keep playing at the park afterward, I gladly offered to take her friend home with us just so she wouldn’t be lonely. And at home, when she asked for a “snacky lunch,” I knew just what that meant. We sat at her favorite table and talked about her favorite things. We danced afterward, and puzzled, and read books. I was patient, I was attentive, I was at the top of my game–regardless of nausea, headache, and hernia. Even I knew it was going to be a disappointment that I couldn’t find an animal to take in the car to pick up her brother from school–I knew. But time waits for no animal, so matter-of-factly I explained the dilemma. And she promptly melted down into high-pitched, screaming hysterics.
I had no intention of catering to her all day, but at the same time, if possible, I like to make our time as pleasant as possible. After all, she was the one born second, shuttled around to endless playdates for M, naps missed and lunches late. She was the one who tagged along. I feel like this time is her time, these precious few days we have to enjoy. I have fun being a good mom. So why does it feel like a good mom is no less than perfect?
I know, she’s three. She doesn’t understand the intricacies that go into running our day, the constant effort it takes to make it all happen smoothly. She understands that she wanted an animal and I didn’t bring it. I know not to take it personally, just like I shouldn’t take the screaming at potty breaks or meltdowns over missing blankies or refusal to eat dinner personally, either. But in the moment, it feels as though I’m successfully juggled ninety-nine parenting balls, and she’s pointing at the one lying on the floor. And for a people-pleasing overachiever, that really smarts.
I pick up the ball. I juggle anew. The lump in my throat recedes with time, and her forgetful happiness is a great antidote. Regardless of whether they ever see, recognize, or appreciate what I go through, I believe wholeheartedly that they deserve it anyway, and I am glad to give it one hundred and ten percent. Besides, it truly is awesome that these little people believe so much of me that even when I tell them nobody’s perfect, they think I could be anyway. I know it won’t happen, but their faith makes a darn good consolation prize.