It’s 3:23 a.m. and I am exhausted and running a fever because of a bad cold. I am watching CNN and its bumper music, something I first consciously heard 12 years ago when I was a very young, very new bride, brings me back to those languid days when I had so much free time before me. Back then I was looking for things to do, finding creative ways to fill my days while waiting for Richard to come home from work. And then the baby came and life and TV and dancing happened and things shifted. All of a sudden I was thankfully busy, far from being a bored housewife. And just when I thought I could not get busier, politics dropped itself in my lap while I was happily looking elsewhere.
Now, my days are packed to overflowing. I have to make a conscious effort to keep my head above water lest I get overwhelmed and drown. Today, after the most hectic three weeks of my life so far, I am too tired to sleep even, if that is at all possible.
I’ve been gone from writing for so long now and it does not sit well with me, only because I do not want to fall into that black hole where undesirable habits lead. If I let yet another deadline pass, I just might get used to that. I optimistically look at where I am now as a space where I am still just trying to get used to the new hours I keep and hopefully when I settle into that my rituals, the very things that make my days what they are, will resurface even if they must come in new shapes and forms.
How do I feel right now? Honestly, like I have just been chased by a thousand peacocks. I miss reading, I miss writing handwritten notes, I miss the time I used to spend wrapping the little presents I like to give out for no reason at all. I think our house misses me, too. I miss lounging around doing… nothing. Not that that happened very often before. But it is a rare luxury now, almost as precious as gold and good manners. At best I picture myself under a tree with a stretch of blue water before me and the gentle kiss of the wind lulling me to sleep. I miss that and I need that so bad I can almost already experience it just by closing my eyes.
I look at my daughter sleeping peacefully, wrapped in cushy pink blankets, on the large sofa by the end of our bed she has tucked herself into like a little cocoon. I worry about her. I worry about many things now. I worry that I will become so busy I will wake up one day and find out she is all grown up and I did not see it happen. My days have always had so much of her in them and now that I am all set to become even busier, I am wistful and, yes, feeling guilty about spending less time with her.
When I really think about it I get teary-eyed so to ease the tightness in my chest I hug her and squeeze her until she giggles in delight because she thinks it is all just a game I like to play with her. Sometimes she squirms away, sometimes she stays in my embrace as long as I listen to her babble on and on. I wish I could write down all the funny things she says but I don’t and I won’t because then I lose being in the moment. I just try to remember as much as I can, when I can.
Our room has no design. It hasn’t had any in years. It has ceased to bother me. There is a tent in one side, and she pushes and rearranges things around as she pleases. I let her be. My own mother allowed me to turn over the chairs and tables of our living room before so that I could pretend they were mountains I had to climb, just like Maria in The Sound of Music, while I sang at the top of my non-singing voice: “…The hills are alive, with the sound of music…” I choose to be as indulgent with my daughter now that I am a mother. It is how I give back. I get sentimental when I think of my childhood and I wish I could bring it back, even for just one day. I miss the innocence of my youth, when I thought the world as my grandfathers and grandmothers knew it had no color because all the pictures I saw were black and white. Juliana has probably felt the same way for me because she once told me “Mom, I wish we met when you were little still, then we could have been playmates!” That thought delighted her so much it made her face beam.
I worry about that day when I nuzzle her neck and cheek and she will already smell like perfume instead of milk and rain as she always does. I worry that she will no longer want to tag along as I do my chores, that she will choose to be with her friends more than with me and her dad and that she will stop bugging me to bring her out to buy frozen yogurt.
I worry that one day she will not be so little anymore and have a life all her own. I know that time will come but, please, dear Lord, not just yet.
So now while I am still taller than her (not necessarily bigger, for we can already borrow each other’s tops) I hug her and smother her with kisses and I tell her always and always how much I love her. I let her know I just have to hear her little feet coming up the steps and already my day is brighter than it already is, how it becomes instantly better if it isn’t yet. She has that much positive power over me. She knows she is boss anytime.
My little chipmunk, my bundle of joy, she is not so little anymore. “You’re the best mommy in the whole wide world,” she says, and “even if God lined up all the mommies in the world I would still choose you, Mama!” And that is that. After she declares that with aplomb she leaves me to find time to deal with her own pink busyness, only coming back to me when she gets tired of it or when she needs a partner once the craving for munchies starts.
What did I do to deserve such beautiful love?
It’s now 4:34 a.m. and I am exhausted. I will sleep soundly so I can wake up and live and love all over again.
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