I’m trying to imagine your reaction when one day, hopefully at an age when you are both safely receptive of the little details about your past, you sit and read the following. Will you cry? Will you smile and think how silly I sound? Will you be upset with me? Will you feel like a light bulb is suddenly shedding light on your current struggles? I don’t know… Whatever your reaction, right now I really feel the need to write and share this:
Every evening, I try to think about activities that we can do the following day, that may enrich and expand your sense of wonder. And every morning, I do my best to start the day off right and to set the tone for a productive day of play and adventure. But I don’t always succeed.
These days, fatigue seems to overpower my willpower and quite possibly affect my hormones. It has been a combination of a lack of deep sleep and a racing mind, neither of which are always in my control, and both of which usually go hand in hand.
Today was unfortunately the climax of this poisonous concoction of feeling tired, frustrated and just down. I really tried to hide it by taking you out to the farm to visit with the animals and pick vegetables, paint with your hands f and watch your favorite cartoons. But something was missing. Despite the countless times I would just dissolve in your moments, watching you play, watching you be, I was not fully present. I was tired.
By lunch time, I did not have the energy to prepare a fun and colorful meal; instead, I felt even more agitated when you were not too interested in the salmon and rice that I cooked. Of course you would not be interested; where was the “customer food” (Sophia’s reference to purple cabbage) with hummus, the side of fruit that usually jumpstarts your pallette, or the mention of our favorite strawberry ice-cream that we save for after lunch?
The rest of the afternoon was even more downhill. I just sat on the couch, watching both you keep yourselves busy, and just responding when you asked me something. Every hour or so, I felt the weight of regret doubling on my shoulders for the missed opportunities of being happy today with you adorable little girls.
When daddy arrived home with dinner, I slipped outside to the backyard, with the excuse that I need to water the fruit trees and check on our edible gardens; in reality, I desperately needed a break. Yet the entire time I was outside, both of you watched me from behind the screen door and kept asking me to come back inside to play with you or read you a book.
I came back inside, and that’s when the bucket of ice water was released on me: both of you climbed on the couch next to me and little Isabella (22 months!) said, “Mommy wake up! Mommy wake up!” … my eyes had been wide open, but she had picked up on my absence. Then sweet Sophia (almost 4) said, “Isabella, come on! Let’s play a game to make mommy laugh! I jump on her and then we tickle her.”
The weight collapsed. Tears welled up but I could not let you see. I realized, that all day today I had let you down. I don’t know how many instances I had used an “unmotherly” tone of voice; I don’t know how many times you had glanced at me, just to see me staring blankly at my phone.
And yet, now that I write this, I can at least close my eyes and rest at ease knowing that at a minimum I have been able to guide my darling daughters to be empathetic and in tune with another person’s deepest absence. After all, why else am I spending every waking hour of my life with the two of you? I want to make sure that you practice all of your emotional roller coasters, sympathetic observations and empathetic concerns on ME! So practice on and use me as your boxing bag, your yoga mat, your running shoes!
All I can promise in return is to continue to do the best that I can to just be me.