Tonight as I was putting my youngest, Lilly Poo to bed – “Mommy, you happy?”
She asks me this a lot, and it’s always right when I’m feeling not happy.
Me: (through somewhat gritted teeth, it had been a challenging evening) “Yes, of course! I’ve got you and Maya.”
Lilly: “And Daddy.”
Lilly: “And Gommy.”
Now I’m smiling wider.
Lilly: “And Gompo, and Katie and uncle Curt…”
Lilly: “And dragons!”
Feeling grateful, happy and strong because I’ve got dragon power, l kiss her and say, “Goodnight, Lilly!”
Lilly: “Night, Mommy!”
It’s hard to believe that last year I had a two-year-old who still sucked on her pacifier, slept in a crib, had awful tantrums and wore diapers. I also had an eight-month old baby. Only a year later and they are already so big, so independent; only one in diapers, one who sucks a pacifier and only one in a crib.
Maya, my almost four-year-old talks like a teenager and seems to have such a confident grasp of concepts; and my little one wants to be big. She’s so darn cute and coming right along. She says “Vadi” for water, the Russian word for it. Yup, she’s coming along. This summer, it’s me that is stalled. Without proper time set aside, I lose myself in parenting. I have a marketing client (I do), who I’ve mostly ignored all summer. I have a playwriting career (I do) and in the summer and winter I simply don’t….have…time. Normally when you have a job, it’s a job and there is a set time that you go do that job. For a mom that works from home, who doesn’t have both kids in school or a day care, where do you get this “time?” You beg, borrow, steal…you pay for it. So it’s a lot to figure out. How do I spend the time that I mostly have to pay for?
And then, during the summers and winters, I have so much less help that there are days and days that pass by where I don’t get a break, a moment of thought to myself, and I just give in to it…to this parenting thing, and I’m okay with that.
I realize I’m not working a normal job (9-5) for a reason and I know why. I don’t have full-time help for several reasons and I know why. The truth is, I am here in this moment flipping through the channels trying to find Olivia because I want to be here…
When you are a parent you have so many moments of “Wow, oh my god…this is amazing….This is so hard…Why am I sweating so much? Do I really have to bend over to get that? Oh yeah, you have learned to put on your own jacket….Please don’t jump on that….Break that…Eat that….Don’t talk to me like that!….Why is it raining and I am pushing a double stroller? And then, it’s over – Pre-school…pushing a double stroller…your parenting time, or maybe your life. So you better enjoy every rainy day, every fight, every tear…every cuddle.
Call me crazy, but with all the sadness in the world, going to a kids’ dance performance is a way to really lighten your spirits and remind you, that it’s not all bad. Despite the polar ice caps melting and terrible hurricanes, corrupt, polarized politicians — there is happiness to be had, and it’s right in front of you, maybe.
Maya’s first ballet performance was a hit. She was awesome and the show was very professional with so many wonderful children dancers (lots of hip hop boys’ too), teachers and parents. I caught myself getting a little weepy there in the audience. I noticed I was a little teary during the rehearsal too. I was totally embarrassed and put my sunglasses on. I dunno. Perhaps it reminds me of when I was little dancer, which doesn’t seem so long ago. I sort of did a dance on stage in 2004, and before that I did a crazy “Bat Dance” with my friend and amazing dancer Sue Olsen. But that was a long time ago, when I was 18. I danced a lot when I was teenager.
I was also a dance teacher once, and I was the teacher back stage wanting my kids’ to do well.
But this feeling I had today came up and grabbed me in the chest. Love is so powerful.
And then, I got home with baby Lilly and put her down for her nap. Dad is at a birthday party with Maya. I immediately had to get to work cleaning out the double stroller — after an afternoon out, it’s disgusting with milk splattered about. Then, I cleaned my apartment like crazy instead of sitting down to do my real work — for a client that is due Monday, or my writing, which is due for my TV class. I can’t work when my apt is a mess, which is just a perpetual state of affairs when you have little kids….it just is. But once all the laundry was folded and put away, I put the program from Maya’s dance recital in her baby book, and sat in the chair in her room– the one we sit together in every night, where I read The Cat in The Hat and The Giving Tree. I looked around the cluttered room and thought: just don’t take this from me.