Suburban Snapshots

Brave

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On Saturday I had Anna all by myself, all day long. Any number of you are already like, "Wait, why is this blog-worthy?" I know, but I've mentioned the balance of parenting around here and though I fill all the standard mama roles — snuggling, soothing, actually combing hair instead of strangling a sticky handful of nappy curls into a pony tail, getting all whelmy against my better judgment during cloying commercials and bad country songs, and generally being treated like Anna's intern — Steve handles most of the one-on-one care.

Usually when it's just Anna and me I'll find another adult human to spend the day with, heading up to Mom's or down to a friend's. But I wanted to give her a full day of Mama, knowing we don't have them often, imagining all the sweet moments I'd have with my little BFF.

I woke in the morning not to her usual whimpers, but to an immediate request for water. After we were both out in the dark living room where I turn each morning to PBS Kids while I wait for my mouth and eyes to unstick, she rapid-fired a few more demands: potty (can someone please tell me when she won't need an escort for this?), juice, snack, blanket, and I translated "IT'S TOO BRIGHT, MAMAAAAAA!" to, "Please lower the dimmer on the kitchen light while you urgently pour your coffee, Mother." Once she found her amenities adequate, she did sit quietly watching the Saturday line-up for a good two to three hours I think, I can't be sure but when I woke up Saturday Night Live was on while.

But then, more demands. Requests for everything in sight, and it wasn't that she was being bratty about it, just that it gets really damn ass exhausting to have to say and then explain "No" four-hundred-catrillion times. We took a bath and dressed — now that I'm letting her pick, this is a 25 minute, drawer-clearing process  — and headed to the grocery store where I spent another half-hour refusing all manner of items, from tampons to balloons to calf liver. I flinched at each new aisle, wondering what she'd see and want, then ask for without so much as a hint of good manners. I ran into a friend's sister and made small talk that was necessarily a few decibels higher than, "Mama, Froot Loops! MAMA! Look! Fruit Loops! Mama, I want that. I can have it with MILK! I want milk, Mama! Mama, MORE Froot Loops! Mama, I want money and I want to WALK."

Hey, remember that time I wrote this? BWAH-HA-HA-HA. What a dick I was.

So we headed to our Green Zone: the play ground. Our entire day turned around on that climbing structure.

Anna took off, not even glancing back for me, needing no escort, no assistance, making no demands. She stormed up the stairs and down the slide, she grappled up onto the bouncing see-saw thing, sat at the little wooden table and ate her bag of gummy fruit, happily sharing some with an older girl (here I did intervene, because you never know which kid might be allergic to strawberries, or corn syrup, or you know, dirt or whatever). Then, without asking for my help she climbed up a ladder to a platform higher than the top of my head, and grabbed onto a bar farther than my arms could reach. She swung herself out and onto a twisty, metal death-pole, and just like that, spiraled her little body to the bottom.

She did it over and over, and each time I put my hands close, spotting her from platform to ground, holding my breath. Each time her little feet touched the dirt, she'd smile wide at me and run away back up the ladder. My little girl, suddenly so very, very brave. The day's earlier struggles floated away like the dust under her shoes.

I don't know how you full-time moms do it, but I damn sure know why.

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