My mom often talks about how, when I was a baby, she never got anything done becuase all we did was “play, play play” all day.
I never really understood that.
I’m a mother three times over and playing is so not my thing. I build a tower out of blocks, someone knocks it down. I build another tower out of blocks, someone knocks it down. I put the blocks in a box, someone empties the box on their head, then bangs the box on their sisters head. My Barbie’s have no conversational skills and their backstories are lame. Don’t even get me started on fairies, mermaids and unicorns. Coming up with detailed CVs for a realm of imaginary creatures must have been the creative writing class I missed that one time.
When the girls ask me to play, I pawn them off on one another. “Go play with your sister!” is a favorite refrain. Not as popular, but just as common is , “Why don’t you play with your sister so I can finish up [insert chore], and then we’ll all play together!” They haven’t picked up on the fact that the second part of that nugget is just misdirection on my part.
I’m at home with Vivi a good portion of the day. We sort of play together. I get down on the floor with her and push the blocks around or make the stuffed animals dance. She’s young enough still that I’m not required have a character spreadsheet and blueprints for the cardboard castle we have yet to build. I know the time will come when the girls will be beyond playing and into things that firmly tether them into the tween-age world. When that time comes, though, while playing may be part of it, I know one thing that I’ll readily miss even more.
Now that strep throat is in my rearview, I’m ready to get back to tasks at hand. This morning was a rough re-entry as Vivi decided to have a few middle of the night wake-ups. I was getting REM sleep in short 2 hour bursts, followed by the Hubs with an early morning wake-up of his own. The girls claimed they had just closed their eyes when I went to rouse them and burrowed back under the covers like moles when I flipped up on the lights.
We made it through the morning routine. Kisses were given, backpacks and lunches handed over, and the day got underway. Vivi and I hit the Y, run a few errands and head home. It’s barely 10am. We get home, she’s all smiles, as am I, since I know a nap is in her future. I try to take the snack trap away from her so I can dislodge her from her carseat, and let me tell you, Bruce Banner ain’t got nothing on her. She set up a yell so loud and so gravelly, I checked her pockets for a bullhorn and some Newports. Seriously, I couldn’t get us in the house fast enough for fear that someone in the neighborhood was going to come walking around the bend and tell me to “stop pinching that baby”. Now there’s a southern eupehemsism that I’ve heard repeatedly when clearly, pinching is the least of the baby’s problems.
In the house we go. I set her up in her high chair and hand back the snack trap. On the floor it goes. I hand her a sippy cup. She takes a few pulls and tosses it over her shoulder like it’s a red solo cup and she’s at the frats. So, I unbuckle her from the seat, get a Cheerio crusted baby slap to the face for my trouble. She leans in as I pick her up and gives me the Harvey Fierstein of baby cries in my ear. Again. Somewhere in this house there’s a pacifier and I must be on the good list today, because I easily locate it. I pop it into her mouth, gently pressing her head to my shoulder as we start up the stairs for her room.
Typically, I’d just
plop place her into her crib, pull up the blanket and moonwalk out the door. Today, however, I needed a few minutes to regroup myself, so I settled us into the rock-a-bye-chair. We’ve had this green glider since Mo was born, but it’s always been dubbed the rock-a-bye chair because that’s what I called my rocking chair as a kid. I sat back and started us on a gentle glide. The repetitive motion was soothing for both of us because soon, Vivi had stopped whimpering around the pacifier and I stopped enumerating the things that I planned to do.
We rocked and we rocked. I stroked her hair and marveled at how quickly her legs had grown long enough to be folded under her to fit comfortably in my lap. She had one arm draped across my own, her fingers curling into the sleeve of my shirt, anchoring herself to me, even in sleep. We rocked and we rocked. I rubbed her back and noticed how my the span of my hand took up the distance between her waistband and the nape of her neck. Her breath came more evenly, as the space between the ragged post-crying breaths grew longer and longer. We rocked and we rocked. I inhaled her baby scent, so easy to identify, so hard to accurately describe. It’s a combination of skin, and warmth, and sun, and something that’s just inexplicably baby you want to stick your nose in the crook of their neck and build a home there. We rocked and we rocked. My eyelids started to close as the weight and pressure of her little body pressed down heavily on my own. I thought about how the girls will ask for a ride in the rock-a-bye chair to stave off beditme just a little bit longer. I’ll always agree, even if we have to jam in there like toes in a too-small shoe. I thought about how even now, I’ll ask my mom for a ride in the rock-a-bye chair. After she finishes laughing, she’ll let me perch myself over her lap for a few minutes before someone needs us. The last thought before I dozed off was, “Sometimes, you just need your mom.”
|(Vivi at one month)|
For a few minutes, I didn’t care that there were dishes in the sink, that there was unfolded laundry in the buckets, and lightbulbs that needed to be replaced in the hall. Right then, gliding back and forth, that what I needed to be doing. I thought about the times I rocked Mo and Co in that very chair. The only constants in each memory is the chair and my telling myself to remember that moment. I can close my eyes and exactly recall the position of the glider in the room, the way the light from outside filtered through the slats on the the blinds, the way her eyes raced underneath her eyelids like she was reading ahead in her dreams. I remember the Hubs gently chiding me to put her in the crib, put her in the crib, put her in the crib, and me wanting just a few more minutes, just a few more minutes, which I’m glad I took. With Co, I remember the creak of the floorboards underneath the glider as we rocked back and forth. There’s the pops, hisses, and clinks of the radiator in the room, giving additional harmony to my humming as I ran my hand over her head again, and again. I remember willing myself to remember, taking mental snapshots that I could come back to when I needed them.
I know a baby can’t sleep all day. Every nap time can’t be something out of a storybook, but I would gladly get nothing done, toss my best laid plans, forgo a shower and a second cup of coffee for the chance to glide in the rocker with my baby, listening to her breathe, and falling in love over and over again.