Tuesday, October 15

THIS WILL NOT LAST FOREVER.

Have you ever gone so long without talking to one of your friends that you're almost afraid to talk to them again?  Like... what do you have to talk about?  Do you even have anything in common anymore?  Or maybe so much has happened over the last few months of silence that you don't even know where to start?

That's been me.  Over the last [nearly] 3 months.

Boredom= wine + peroxide + foils.
Hair color change #1 of 4.
I can't tell you how many times I've sat down to write something.  There are several unfinished posts in my blog's "draft" folder.  Every time I tried to write something over the past few months, it seemed empty.  A meaningless jumble of words bouncing across a cold canvas.  It's not like nothing exciting has happened.  We've traveled, we've had guests visiting from out of town, we've been sick (yes, both of us have been sick, and more than once), I've changed my hair color once twice thrice 4x, we've worked, eaten, slept, and
repeated the same day over and over and over again.

It feels so repetitive, so monotonous, my life with Sol.  I feel like I rush through the workday -- but at 5:01, what was the point of rushing?  And more often than not, I leave the office around 5:45, not at 5:01.  I pick Sol up from daycare **justbeforedaycarecloses**.  And more often than not, I have some errand to run at that point.  Which basically means I'm wasting even more of Sol's precious babyhood by stuffing her into the backseat of my car just so I can pick up a carton of milk.  I have no choice.  I can't leave her home while I run out to the grocery store.  I can't go to the grocery store after she's asleep.  So I have to take her with me.  And we arrive home by 6:30.  If we're lucky.  

So we're home.  This is the point of the day where I take this dream I have, this beautiful dream, and try to bring it to life.  I have this beautiful vision of the two of us enjoying a healthy dinner out on the patio: my daughter, perched cheerfully in her high chair, pointing to the airplanes humming through the sky and the dogs pulling their owners along the sidewalk; me explaining to her every force of nature that comes our way as the late summer early autumn breeze blows through her perfectly sun-kissed hair, whose hue matches used to match mine almost exactly.

So this was yogurt, not lasagna,
but pretty much the same deal.
But-- without fail-- reality takes a nasty bite out of that dream.  It's almost 7:00.  Sol is hungry.  I put a happy toddler in the highchair -- in the kitchen, mind you, because I'm too exhausted to roll the highchair out to the patio.  I pull out some leftover lasagna, scoop it into a bowl as Sol watches eagerly, her bib around her neck, and her fork paused in midair, in the "oh-I'm-ready-gimme-food-and-oh-yes-I-want-it-now" position.  It's pure bliss as I listen to her jabber at me cheerfully.  That is, until I put that bowl of lasagna in the microwave.  Once that bowl of lasagna leaves her field of vision and goes into the electric box, her world is shattered.  And any glimmer of a peaceful evening is shattered right along with it.  And so ensues the tantrum.  That happy toddler I set in the highchair a minute ago?  She's gone.  In her place: a sweaty, screaming child who
seems to have her heart set on making my night miserable. 

And in the fashion of every new parent, I abide by the golden rule of toddler-raising, the first page in every parenting book: ignore the tantrums.  I go about my own business as she tears the magnetic letters off the refrigerator, a solid "NO!!" with the plummet of each primary-colored consonant.  I sit there and try not to watch as she kicks every. single. kitchen. cupboard. on her way to the living room, where she pulls the pillows off the sofa, a continuation of her lasagna-fueled fury.  In moments like these, I wish madly that I had an adult there with me.  Another human who can understand my complete sentences, another human who can use real words to respond to me and reassure me (in complete sentences) that something like this will not last forever.  Another human who can temper the sting of raising a toddler.  But instead, I have no choice but to repeat the mantra to myself: This tantrum will not last forever.

I sit at the kitchen table and stab a fork mindlessly at my own dinner, any pleasant thoughts drowning amid the horrific sobs and shrieks from the angry toddler who is taking her anger out at a new audience, voicing her frustrations to the front yard as she stands her ground behind the floor-length curtains in the living room.  I'm ignoring her.  This will stop eventually.  But in the meantime, my own negative thoughts bob to the surface and remind me once more that I'm terribly lonely.  The tantrum will stop eventually.  In the meantime, I still have no companion.  I'm still as lonely as the day she was born.  I'm still as lonely as the day I learned I was pregnant.  With each inconsolable gasp of anger, with each crocodile tear that escapes her eye for no good reason, I feel another searing pang of loneliness.  I think about the mothers I know -- all of whom have a husband to help them through the joys and miseries of raising a baby.  This will not last forever.  I feel lonely.  I feel cheated.  I look down to see that my own sad dinner is cold and maybe even tear-stained, bearing the scars of another Battle Against the Tantrum.  Without even realizing it, I cried over my own lasagna because I'm frustrated with life.

And I wait.  This will stop eventually.  And it does, as per usual.  The screams taper down into whimpers, the crying subsides, and a new Sol emerges from the living room.  "Up," she says, as she points her right index finger into her left hand and moves both of them UP (her artistic twist on ASL).  I pick her up and she throws her arms around my neck and says, "Book."  We go over to the couch and she drops Good Night Moon on my lap.  We open to the inside cover, and I read Aunt Sarah's lovely message to a newborn Sol.  Good Night Moon has become part of our nightly routine.  And as I read to her, she answers my questions (What do the bears say?  Where is the moon?  Can you say 'good night' to the little mouse?) and I can't imagine any other spot that I would rather be at that moment.
And we go through the book, which I probably know by heart at this point.  This is the only book we read.  We do the same things throughout the book.  And we do this every night. 

And again I think, This will not last forever.  She won't always want to sit on my lap and read about the great green room, the comb and the brush and the bowl full of mush.  She'll "hate" me someday when I make her change her clothes before going to school; or when I take her phone away until she does her homework.  She'll "hate" me someday when I won't let her go to "the movies" on Saturday night, when I know she's actually going to some party.  Life will happen, as it always does, this bittersweet life, and before we know it, she'll have forgotten the comfort of Mama's lap on a Tuesday night, leaning her head back against my chest as I rest my chin on her perfect, untouched hair.  She'll forget how much she loved saying good night to the moon.  She won't know how much she needed me, or how much I needed her during the summer of 2013.

She won't know how many times I laid her down to sleep, using every ounce of energy to push all the "to-do's" out of my head, to forget the emails and the spreadsheets and the laundry and the cleaning and the homework, and then remained there standing over her crib, my left hand caressing her back and soothing my sweet Sol to sleep.  She won't know how many hours I've spent kissing her forehead and holding her hands, telling her how loved she is, how valuable she is, how smart and kind and strong and beautiful she is.  She won't know how hard I'm working to give her a beautiful life in order for her to grow into a beautiful person.

This babyhood, this toddlerhood, this age of "grit-my-teeth-and-count-to-ten-and-remember-she's-one-and-a-half" will not last forever (oh hallelujah).  But the beautiful, cheerful mornings and quiet, peaceful evenings won't last forever either.  And I want her to know those moments.  I want her to know how important she is.  And for that reason, I will write.  I will write my daughter the story of our life.  I will write a story that shows my Sol how important she is, so that she will never EVER doubt her worth.  I can't give her the traditional life I so badly want to, nor can I write down exactly what our future will look like.  But I can write down our life until today.  I can tell her about the day she was born, or the first time she saw a Christmas tree, or how we would go to Target with Aunt Joleen and try on all the hats.   And I can write love.  If nothing else, she will know love.

Sol's first root beer float: liquid love in a 12oz cup.

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