My daughter beat me yesterday. She hit me so hard I got the wind taken out of me for an hour. Tears welled up in my eyes, but I didn’t let them fall. Okay, she didn’t hit me physically, but she beat me with her words.
No need to call me, CPS, it was innocent. Innocent for her, but complex and painstaking for me. It’s a sign of what’s yet to come when she is a tween or, even worse, a teenager. She said, “I don’t want to sit with you, Mommy. I want to sit with my Daddy.” (There was a strong and loud emphasis on “my”.)
I probably had the same expression my husband does when he gets kicked in the balls by accident. Yes, she’s a three-year-old and this is a simple request, but it hurt…really bad. As Mothers, there is no paycheck, bonus or even certificate for the amount of care we put into raising our brood. Our only reward is the affection they choose to share. A simple hug or lingering smile is sufficient.
I usually take these little rewards for granted, but she shed my belief in her unconditional nature. You see, I was busy yesterday. She wasn’t my world for five hours. And, because I left her, she FORGOT about me.
This would be okay, if she could understand reasoning, after a short discussion stating, “How would you feel, if…”, but it didn’t make her budge. She persevered in not understanding that words hurt and you should choose them wisely. She continued to walk away from me leaving a wake of heartbreak and shattered faith. Faith that she will always be my baby. Faith that she will be that unusual child who still calls me Mommy at sixteen (okay, that’s kind of creepy). Faith that she will never grow up. Faith in the impossible.
Okay, I’m adding an undertone of melodrama and melancholia to state my case. It wasn’t so bad, but I was hormonal and sentimental. This little exchange made me realize that I better hold on tight to all of the moments I make with her. I better hold on tight to the few smiles we exchange, full of utter and complete love. They will become fewer and fewer and far less, as the years pass.
This is a lesson, for me, to not take for granted when she poots and still laughs at it. No mortification in sight. It’s a lesson to not take for granted when she draws an unflattering picture of me with a wide smile and says, “I drew a picture of you, Mommy. You look pretty.” No blood or daggers or guts in sight. It’s a lesson to not take for granted the hugs she gives me in public. No embarrassment or disdain in sight.
Later that night, before she went to bed, she told me she loves me. She had forgotten that she didn’t want to sit with me. Of course, she did. She’s three. She had forgotten that I had even left her for the day. Fickle as she is, she’s still my baby and I’m glad she flipped like a switch. I smiled so wide, I caught tears in my mouth. Salty, but super sweet.
Truth is, she will always be my baby. At 5, 10, 15 or 40. She will always be my “labor” of love. Toad the Wet Sprocket had it right with I Will Not Take These Things for Granted.
Flowers in the garden
Laughter in the hall
Children in the park
I will not take these things for granted