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My Kingdom For A Moment's Peace

I realize that when I signed up for Mommy,
I was committing myself full-time to this gig. For eighteen years,
we all joke, but really for life. I knew that I’d become
intimate with Sleeplessness and Worry, that I’d finally
understand the definition of Sacrifice, and that my life would
never be the same.

What no one told me was that my kids would be so $#% needy.
Self-evident? Yes. Can you understand what needy means until
you’re a parent? Nope.

Maddie’s a pretty great kid and has
been remarkably free of jealousy over having to share her mommy
with another person. But every once in a while you can see that
I’m neglecting her a bit – too much packing to do, too
much house to maintain, too little time to shine the Mommy
Gro-Light on Maddie and help her bloom. She doesn’t take it
out on Cora, but she does become clingy, demanding, more
disobedient in an effort to simply get more attention from me.

Cora, of course, is a baby and doesn’t understand the meaning
of the word “share”. Add to that the fact that
she’s got a raging case of separation anxiety, and I
can’t step more than six inches away from her without her
bursting into tears. Just this morning I put her down in the
kitchen to fix breakfast, her fat little bottom sitting snugly
between my feet. She cooed happily to herself until I stepped
behind her ONE FOOT to open the fridge. Suddenly, no Mommy in
sight, no Mommy to be felt, and the screams started. I stuck one
leg back to touch her spine; she reached behind and began stroking
my leg, happy and chirping once again.

I spent the whole day like this, intermingled with an astonishingly
tantrum-prone Maddie. I’d put Madeleine on a break in her
room and she’d sob over and over, “I want Mommy in here
for my break! I want to snuggle! I want Mommy to snuggle with
me!” which would of course defeat the purpose of a break. And
Cora is so urgently in need of being as close to me as possible
that she’ll grab my hair by either ear, pull my face up to
hers, and begin chewing on my chin as she hums happily, stroking my
face. Seated in my lap is no longer enough; now she must be seated
facing me or, even better, standing facing me so she can caress my

Not a day goes by that one of my kids doesn’t act as if
she’d climb back into my womb if given the opportunity, and
all that love and appreciation begins to wear a person down (see
many previous blogs). I drink soy milk, Maddie wants soy milk. Out
of the same glass. I go to the bathroom, Cora must keep me in
eyesight at all times. Can’t I just have my own dang glass?
Can’t I even go pee in peace?

There are, of course, moments when I wallow in this intimacy. At 7
a.m. when Cora wakes up and I bring her into bed with me to gain
another hour’s sleep, she nestles happily into my body and
sleepily strokes my hair. When Maddie wakes from her nap all
bleary-eyed and disoriented, she’ll sometimes climb into my
lap for a good snuggle and rock and I relish the few minutes with
my feet up and my other duties suspended. I know these moments will
be gone for good before I’ve really had time to acknowledge
them, so I feel a bit of remorse over complaining about the girls
and their exposed desire for me.

But there’s just so much of it – you look in their
little upturned faces, naked need written across them, and think
you’ll never be able to pour enough of yourself into them to
fill that glass. And you’re flattered and humbled and blessed
– and exhausted. And burned out. And resentful. When do you
get recharged? Where do you go to get yourself re-filled?

I don’t have the answer for it, obviously. I think these
things come in waves, and kids can instinctively sense when
they’re about to push Mommy too far and she’s going to
run screaming to Las Vegas and never come back. Just when you think
you’re going to snarl at the next kid who screams when you
walk away, your child smiles at you and turns to play by herself.
And just when you think the well has run dry and you’ve no
more left to give, your child walks into the room with her
butterfly wings and tutu on and says, “Look at me, Mommy! I
got dressed all by myself! I did it all by myself, just like you
like! Don’t I look good? Didn’t I do good?”

And you smile and say Yes, you look wonderful, and You did a great
job. And you walk over and straighten her wings and watch her fly

And discover your well is full again.


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