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Success, Of Sorts

I did this concert Saturday night, and it
was the first time I’d been gone from the house at bedtime
since the night I delivered Cora, way back in May 2007. No one has
put Cora down for bedtime except me – first because of the
nursing thing, then because of her raging case of separation
anxiety. We’d been working on naps for a while and
she’s pretty good about that – she’ll happily
allow someone else to do naptime as long as I’m not in the
house. But we hadn’t done nighttime before, because
she’s such a difficult sleeper that we didn’t want to
create a possible “up all night” scenario until we
needed to.

Which means that as I was moving towards
the concert that evening, I was both giddy with freedom and pale
with apprehension: excited about feeling like a grownup and being
out late, and worried that I’d pay for it all night with a
clingy toddler.

Before bedtime, though, I’d arranged a treat for the girls
– they got to come see the first half of the performance and
see their mommy onstage for the first time. Maddie was quite
excited, though critical of the fact that she couldn’t come
onstage with me (“I think I should be standing right next to
you the whole time – I’ve got my purple princess dress
that will match you!”) and was clearly looking forward to the
evening. Cora didn’t really understand much of what was going
on, except that Mommy wasn’t there when she woke up from her
nap. I’d thought about trying to get a quick glimpse of them
before the show, but worried seeing me would remind Cora that she
was supposed to be missing me, so I skipped that and planned to see
them at intermission before they went home.

Apparently, I’d been right to worry.

Both girls were dressed up in their Christmas finery, and I could
almost picture them sitting on laps in the audience. Brian told me
later that Cora was excited and interested as the show started,
watching everything with big eyes and seemingly perfectly content.
I didn’t come out for a few songs, and waited in the wings
for my turn.

My first solo, I came out, did my piece, and walked happily
offstage, glad it had gone well.

Which is the point at which Cora wailed, “Mommy!

Yes, it was fine to see Mommy onstage – that was great.
Didn’t need to touch her, as long as she was there. Seeing
Mommy leave, not so great.

Cora was absolutely inconsolable and had to be rushed out of the
theatre, where my poor mom watched more of the performance on the
monitors as Cora hiccupped and wailed and screamed. When I came
back onstage they were able to sneak into the theatre again, only
to rush out as I once again left the stage.

The first I heard of this was when a fellow performer came up to me
in my dressing room and said, “First, you were fabulous out
there. Second, a security guard said your daughter’s quite
upset and needs to see you.”

I rushed up front, where sure enough, Cora was red-eyed and
snot-nosed and still inconsolable and launched herself into my
arms. She spent the last of the first act (which I thankfully was
not in) and the entire intermission stuck to me like a burr, not
even smiling at people in the green room backstage as they cooed
over her.

Of course, getting to snuggle with me simply put off the inevitable
– going home without Mommy. And when intermission was over
there was the expected wailing and gnashing of teeth, which I had
to turn my back on and ignore. Cora was so upset Maddie started to
whimper, which of course didn’t help Cora at all.

I learned later that Cora cried the whole way home, but calmed down
when she was given a few minutes to play with her toys and went to
bed quite easily without me. So we’ve discovered that the key
here is out of sight, out of mind.

Surprisingly, Maddie was the one most affected by my missing
night-night time; she awoke at 5 a.m. calling out for me, and when
I stumbled in she said, “Mommy, why didn’t you come in
to snuggle me like you always do?” I had to explain it all
over again, and give a good snuggle, before going back to bed. Cora
slept until 6:45, but once she saw me was up and refused to leave
my side.

All in all, the evening was a success – we learned that Cora
could live without Mommy for bedtime. And we learned, along with
three hundred other strangers, that if Cora’s going to watch
Mommy in a show, I’d better dang well be onstage the whole
time. Afterwards I was telling some friends about Cora’s cry,
and they said, “Was that YOUR daughter? We totally heard

Yep, that was my daughter.


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