We’re entering the part of the log ride where the waters get kind of choppy and I can’t decide which way to lean: left or right or not at all? Should I close my eyes and hold my breath, clutching the handlebar, preparing for the descent that awaits? Or do I power through, swallow hard and raise my hands overhead to release control entirely? It’s discipline time and suddenly, I feel like we’re back in the newborn days of guess-and-check. I’ve found myself trying on different hats to find a technique that works for both of us, one after another after another, until we find one that fits for a day, but then, no, our head must have grown two sizes since then so fling goes the hat, across the room and we dig, dig, dig for a different one.
For the record, your father has this way of making any hat fit, so this is a non-issue for him. I’d just like to point this out for posterity, and perhaps further proof that you might not be related to me after all? The relationship you two share is nothing short of picturesque – a game I would pay to see over and over and over, a team that I intend to cheer on for the rest of my life.
But eventually, I have to get off the bench and get my hands dirty, because as much as you need your father, you need me, too. And Bee, I’ll wear as many hats as it takes to get in our groove.
Disciplining you is so, so hard for me. I’m too gentle with my requests or too harsh with my demands and I’m worried that on some days, I’m confusing you. Consistency is key, I’m told, but there is nothing consistent about motherhood, Bee. There are days when I’m tired and you get two TV shows and a billion blackberries, and sure you can eat them on the couch, absolutely, just for today, and I’ll be here twirling your hair and we’ll count numbers on the screen together – as many as you’d like, forever and ever.
And then there are days when I feel like rallying, and no, no TV, we’re going outside because it’s good for you and let’s bundle up and no, no blackberries right now because I don’t want to stain your coat and I know we had them yesterday but we have to wait until dinner and bath and yes, you have to take a bath tonight because we’re going outside and we’ll be getting very, very dirty.
And then there are mornings when yes, we’re going outside again, but this time we can’t get too dirty because we’re on a tight schedule and there is no time to change your clothes and yes, I know I said we could eat blackberries anywhere except for the couch but not today because we’re headed out to breakfast and I’m out of wipes and yes, you’ll still have to take a bath later because we’re going to grandma’s house tomorrow and you won’t have one there.
As routined as we are, Bee, there is nothing consistent about our days. They’re a combination of energy, a compromise of your wants and my thoughts and our plans, and sometimes I’m off and you’re off and that’s when the universe kind of blows up and leaves a million pieces between the couch cushions.
There are few things worth disciplining over, in my book, and that is (a) disrespect and (b) disobedience, and perhaps (c) premature piercings, but that comes way later. But there are such fine lines with you right now, because most of the time (a) is unintentional and (b) is not, but it’s funny and I just want to laugh so I can release the tension in my shoulders, the pings that remind me that you’re not even two yet and disobedience is little more than cloaked learning.
I want to laugh at your (a) and your (b), because it’s funny right now. It’s innocent and pure, like when you do something you know you’re not supposed to and then you slowly walk away backwards, hands overhead, staring into our souls in an “I put the gun down, officer, and I swear I’m innocent.” kind of way.
And I want to laugh because I live in a place of extremes and if I don’t laugh, I get angry or frustrated or short-tempered, and Bee, that’s not healthy for any of us. But I worry that if I laugh now, your space for (a) and (b) will grow, because that’s what happens. We grow into what we’re offered and we spread into the space before us.
Your dad and I used to sleep in a twin bed when we were first married. It was tiny and cozy and perfect for us, until we visited my parents and slept in a full bed. And then we visited his parents and slept in a queen bed, and Bee, we just had to have a queen bed, too. Until we tried a king and then a cal king and now we’re basically sleeping in separate time zones with miles of space between us, stretching into the space of a bed that’s larger than life itself.
And Bee, you’re still in a crib. There will be time to try out many different beds, and a big girl bed is just around the corner I’m quite sure. But for now, I want you to trust me.
I want you to trust why it’s important to pick up our toys and why we have to wear our boots and why we turn off the TV to say hello to our guests.
And in turn, I promise to trust you. I trust that you’ll help me pick the right hat to wear, whether it’s the Patience one or the Put My Foot Down one or the This Isn’t A Big Deal one.
Sometimes I’ll wear the wrong one, Bee. But I have a feeling that we’ll be playing dress-up for the rest of our lives and that, one of these days, I’ll get it right. And we’ll wear our new hats while laughing and twirling and spinning around – eyes shut, arms open, fingers stained purple with the sweetest of blackberries (just not on the couch).