Something I wrote in January of last year that I really loved and figured I might as well share:
Lorelei and I traveled as far as the mailbox today. We put jackets on over our jammies and held hands while we ran down the driveway. The mailbox is two houses away from ours, and we got to use the very special mail key to retrieve all of our letters, coupons and credit card offers. Lorelei loves carrying the key back for me. She held onto it tightly, saying “Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of it, mama.” And she always does.
But when we got back to the house, the adventure quickly commenced. I went through the pile of mail creating a “recycle” pile that was much larger than the “keep” pile, and then I turned on the T.V. for Lorelei so I could make breakfast and coffee in peace before Baby Isla woke. The rest of the day involved a little bit of playing here and there, a lot of nursing and quite a bit of trying to keep Isla distracted from her teething pain. It was rough, but we got through the afternoon without too many tears being shed. That’s a win in my book.
By the end of the day I felt badly for not being a crafty, anti-T.V., cutely dressed, patient and inspirational mom. I tried to give myself a break because parenting a toddler and a baby is no easy feat, but I do want to provide my girls with a fun, memorable childhood (a goal I promise to tend to before I go to bed every night). But before I can sleep, the little ones must sleep, so I tackle the bedtime routine with fervor. When I tucked Lorelei into her bed, she sweetly said, “I love you sooooo much, mama.”
I thought to myself, why in the world does she love me “sooooo” much? We didn’t go anywhere exciting, she watched way too much T.V. and I cooked dinner in the microwave. By no means is that what a mother who could be loved “sooooo much” does.
I realized, then, that my two-year-old perceives the day much differently than I do. If you were to ask Lorelei what we did today, she’d tell you the following, because this is how we played during those few and far between spare moments of freedom:
"Today was so cool! Mama and I traveled all over the world to the most wonderful places. First, we set sail on the stormy seas to visit a fairy’s cave in the dining room. We found it all the way on the bottom level of the kitty condo, and she gave us some pixie dust so that we could use it to help Sharky’s heart beat regulate.
Then we had lunch (string cheese, dino nuggets and fruit, my favorite) before we attended a Katy Perry concert. I love Katy Perry and mama always takes me to one of her concerts when I’m feeling kind of moody. So we shook our “bom-boms” to the eye of the tiger song and the fireworks song while Baby Isla laughed and kicked her feet in her swing. It was so fun, I seriously didn’t want it to end, so I begged mama to not let it end but she said Katy Perry needed to go take a nap.
Then I got to watch my favorite show while mama helped Baby Isla stop crying. She spent a lot of time nursing her and putting on her chamomile oil. She even let me help put the oil on Isla’s little baby feet. A bit later, mama read me some books. One had a great story about a dragon, so I decided to call mama “Mama Dragon.” I fed her some magnetic alphabet soup while she made me dinner in the dragon lair. We flew to the living room together, flapping our dragon wings and laughing really loudly like dragons would.
Before bed, I turned into a mermaid in the bathtub and cleaned my fin in the soapy waters. Mama taught me a cool trick so that the water wouldn’t get in my eyes when we washed my long, golden mermaid hair. It felt really good so I closed my eyes, smiled and said “Thank you mama, I love you so much.” That made her smile, which made me really happy.
When it was time to get out, mama wrapped me up in my doggy towel, threw me on her bed (literally, it’s the best part) and tucked me in so I could be warm while she picked out my jammies. Then mama let me run around naked before putting my jammies on, which was so much fun. It always makes Isla laugh, too, which is SO cute.
By the time I was dressed and ready for bed, mama looked pretty worn out, so I gave in and hopped onto my bed. She sat Isla in the rocking chair next to us so that she could watch and listen to my bedtime stories too. Mama acted out all of the animal hugs in the Mommy Hugs book and read me my favorite prayers. It was so nice. I told her that I loved her sooooo much because I do, and then I reminded her to not forget Isla before she left the room. I’ve never seen her forget Isla, but I figure I should always remind her just in case. I can’t wait until tomorrow. I hope it’s just as awesome as today was."
Wow. I’m not surprised that I’m exhausted. Who knew we could travel to so many places in just one day? And with two kids at that!
It’s clear that no matter how challenging and boring the day appeared to be to me, an adult with different expectations of what should have been accomplished and what it takes to be a good parent, my daughter’s point of view is probably that we did a lot of traveling to a variety of magical lands without her ever having to be strapped into a car seat.
And so, I tell myself this: I have NOT failed my children by staying home all day when I don’t have the energy, patience or funds to leave the house and set off on a big adventure. There’s a time and a place for that, and it is not right at the end of maternity leave during growth spurts and teething pains times two in the middle of the week.
By being present and paying attention to my girls and playing along with Lorelei’s fantasies, I got be a part of a day trip that was cooler than my wildest dreams, and I traveled farther than I’ve ever traveled before in my life. Plus, magnetic alphabet soup is delicious, didn’t you know? Now, please excuse me while I guzzle a large glass of ice water. My throat is totally singed after breathing so much fire this evening.