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Not Enough Mommy To Go Around

We’ve had more than our fair share
of illness in this household recently, and one side-effect is an
over-dose of Mommyness, resulting in extra-clinginess by both
girls. And I’m beginning to feel a bit, well, like a chew toy
two dogs are fighting over.

Maddie went to school yesterday in spite of the fact that she was
on the tail end of a cold, largely because it was her class
Valentine party and she couldn’t bear to miss it. So she came
home full of sugar and completely worn out, and by the time I tried
to get her upstairs for naptime she hit Full Global Meltdown.
Sobbing and crumpled in a heap, dress front soaked from her tears,
Maddie couldn’t even articulate why she was crying after a
few minutes, but it was clear she couldn’t move on her own. I
picked her up and carried her up the stairs, calling over my
shoulder, “Come on up, Cora – it’s nap

Now, my mother was RIGHT THERE next to
Cora, and I’d already made it clear that I was going to read
Cora her books – as I do EVERY TIME I’m in the house
for nap- or night-time. But apparently Cora was unhappy at the
sight of Mommy carrying Maddie up the stairs, because Cora then had
a Full Global Meltdown and refused to come up the stairs unless
Mommy carried her.

I had Maddie in her bed and tucked in and was lying down snuggling
with her, even as I listened to the natural disaster happening out
on the stairs. At one point I finally said, “Maddie,
I’m going to have to go get Cora and Gamma will be in here in
a minute.” Maddie began sobbing harder, saying, “No,
please, Mommy, stay with me! Stay with me! Please don’t go to
Cora! I need you right now!” And bless her heart, she had a
point: whenever Cora loses it, Maddie gets handed off to someone
else because Mommy is the One And Only for Cora whenever
Mommy’s in the house. I could see this ache in Maddie’s
heart, and so I stayed and snuggled with her until her sobs stopped
and her hiccups calmed and her breathing slowed down.

And then I went to pay the piper.

Cora was still screaming on the stairs, inconsolable and stuck in
“I want Mommy! I need Mommy! Mommy, PLEASE!” My mom had
disciplined her up the stairs, and Cora lost both books and her
video but had finally at least gotten to the top of the stairs
before flatly refusing to move any further. I picked her up and
began Soothing The Distraught Child, Take Two.

We rocked. We sang. We snuggled. We wiped snot on our sleeves. And
finally, FINALLY, Cora calmed down. “Mommy, sometimes I just
NEED YOU,” she said sadly, fingering my hair between her

It took me an hour to get the two girls down for their naps, and
there were no books, no prayers, no extras whatsoever. And I kept
gritting my teeth and forcing down my impatience, knowing my
presence and my commitment to being present in the moment with each
of them was exactly what they needed. I couldn’t be rushed
and frustrated with Cora simply because she was the second person
in line to need some Mommy Attention, just as I couldn’t
breeze past Maddie and short-change her because she is more
amenable to being consoled by other people. Wednesday was a Mommy
Day, plain and simple.

I remind myself that these days will be fewer and fewer, and
finally come to an end. And I also remind myself – though at
times like this, I don’t know that I fully believe it –
that I may actually miss these days, that naked need, that ability
to give them what they want simply by being in their presence.

So I hang in there, and have a glass of wine at night.

A big one.


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