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Inching Towards Independence

A year ago, a friend of mine moved and I
offered to come in and help organize her kitchen – it’s
one of my “things”. She accepted, and I told her
I’d just have to find a time to come when I could get
babysitting for the two girls. My (childless) friend then
generously (but naively) said, “Why don’t you just
bring the girls with you? They can play around my new place.”

After I stopped laughing hysterically and wiped away the tears, I
explained that having a one-year-old and three-year-old underfoot
would be, um, unhelpful, and I’d get no work done on her
kitchen at all. Even more, I shuddered to think of the damage my
one-year-old Cora could inflict on her way-un-babyproofed

Well, my same friend just moved again, and
I spent yesterday organizing her kitchen once more (like I said,
it’s my thing and brings me great joy. It’s a little
bit of a sickness). And this time, both girls were with me.


I did, of course, pack a bag of toys for them to play with, and had
to stick my head in occasionally to deal with squabbles and sort
out arguments -“Cora, you can play with Bald Ariel while
Maddie plays with Big Ariel, then switch in two minutes”- but
by and large the girls entertained themselves. Cora has learned not
to pick up EVERYTHING she sees, and Maddie loves her big-sister
role of watching out for Cora’s bad choices: “No, Cora,
you shouldn’t take the clothes off the crayons. Why
don’t you color with them instead?”

They even ate a largely unsupervised lunch; I spread a picnic
blanket on the floor and unpacked their sandwiches, and the girls
nibbled contentedly while I continued to put things away. Both
girls stayed in their spots until they were finished, and neither
wandered off and smeared mustard on the couch.

These sound like small things, but in the Mommy world they’re
huge victories. I can now accomplish grown-up things during the day
with them in tow, and know that they’ll either have the
stamina to be patient or the creativity to turn the outing into a
fun time. I love that I can go help a friend clean for a party or
unpack or whatever, and the girls will be ok with it all.

I still can’t have the whole day be geared around grown-up
activities; I know that naptime will be painful unless
there’s one kid-centric (and high energy) thing to do
beforehand. Which means we hit a fast-food place with a playground
if we’ve been running errands all morning, or leave time for
a quick dance performance at home before naptime. Or, in the case
of yesterday, get a little puddle-jumping time.

It’d been raining, so I brought boots and coats and saved the
surprise for the end, bringing out umbrellas right before we had to
leave. And the girls threw on their gear and splashed contentedly
in the puddles for several minutes before obediently climbing in
the car to head home. No arguing, no restlessness, no whining.

So in some small way, I feel as if I’m making progress, and
can see I’m about to hit a sweet spot: after their total
dependence upon me, but before they are embarrassed to be seen with

Better enjoy it while I can.


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