When I thought all was hopeless, I finally had a breakthrough. I was sure I’d be walking on eggshells around her once John went back to work. So I tentatively encouraged her to play with her toys and watch her favourite shows (we took away most of her playthings earlier in the week during one of her naughty episodes, so her choices were limited). By 5:30 pm she was sprawled out on the couch, eyelids drooping, so I very gently asked her to go to her bed and take a nap. Some resistance at first, but she allowed me to carry her to her room and ended up sleeping for an hour and some. When she awoke, I braced myself for a whiny argument about nothing at all but, amazingly, there was nothing of the sort. Stella hasn’t been 100% lately so she went to bed a half hour earlier than usual, leaving just Dani and I.
These past few days I’d been on the brink of exhaustion, with Dani waking up 4-5 times every night crying and needing to be consoled back to bed, interspersed with Stella awakening every other hour, needing to be nursed and changed (as luck would have it, she started pooping late at night, as well). It’s not easy to be in deep sleep, then wake up every hour to tend to one child or the other alternately, as if on cue. I can’t remember when I’ve slept for two or three uninterrupted hours.
Dani asked, Mommy, will you play with me? And I said, of course! She gave me a Shopkin to play with and we built a little Shopkins world together. When I went to my phone to take a photo of it, she sadly asked, Mommy, are you not playing with me anymore? I answered of course I am, took the picture, and put it away. She said she didn’t want to watch TV anymore, and I turned it off. I let her stay up a little later than usual, partly because of her late nap, and partly because I enjoyed watching and listening to her play, amazed by her imagination and creativity.
Of course my eyelids were heavy, and part of me was having trouble playing when I wanted to flip on some R-rated, gory television show, or flop on my stomach and snooze for a lucky few hours until Stella woke up.
But play on, I did. When I told her it was bedtime, she softly shook her head and said she wanted to play still. I gave her five more minutes and, when they were up, told her it was late and she needed to rest up for school tomorrow. Again, I braced myself for some yelling, head-shaking, or tantrum-throwing, but to my amazement, she quietly put her toys away while I got her toothbrush ready.
I came out of the bathroom, and so unexpectedly she broke my heart. She said, Mommy, I don’t want to go to school. I want to stay home with you. I miss you. I fought the tears back, gave her big hugs, and told her everyone has a job, and hers was to go to school. Every day since the first, I’d joke to her about staying home with me instead of going to school. She’d always say, no, Mommy, I want my friends. So you can imagine what this did to me inside.
I promised her that we’d play Shopkins together every night, or do whatever she wanted, no television, telephone, or chores in the way. This made her happy, and we seamlessly brushed our teeth, said our prayers, and said good night with hugs and kisses.
I know we are all busy with our household duties. Tired from a long day of work. Ready to dig our fannies into the couch groove and do some unwinding. But there is so much beauty in a little child who wants to spend all of his or her time with you. Though they were loud and irritating sounds, I know now they were just cries for attention. Before long, these sweet little beings will want nothing to do with us, and we’ll crave these little moments that are already gone.
I’m learning my lesson. The dishes and the laundry and the television can wait. I’ll find a way to stay awake a little longer to do my homework. I’ll try not resorting to tough love to keep her in line (although that’s definitely not going away, let’s be straight). I’ll put my phone away and ignore it (okay fine, I’ll reallyyyy try my best). It’s about devoting more time to my girl who thinks the world of me, when I’m crowded with so much noise and can easily forget what’s right there. I don’t ever want to forget again.