Monday I stayed home with Briar. As some of you may know, Friday evening we had our first trip to the emergency room. Briar took a header into the baseboard molding and gave herself a goose egg the size of Rhode Island on her forehead. Everyone is fine. We didn’t even come away with any dramatic photographs.
You seriously think I would let that be documented? Ha!
We parents may not be able to protect our kids from every bump or bruise, and most people may widely accept that fact, but taking a picture? Having your kid look at the photo, then look at you, and go, “Great job mom. Looks like you really watched out for me.” Nah, I think we’ll give her plenty of material without pictures.
So, the trip to the emergency room was sandwiched by two days of pretty fierce gastrointestinal distress. I decided that since I didn’t have a lot on my plate, Briar was tuckered (and bruised), and I was pretty darn tired myself, that I would stay home Monday. We had a spectacular day.
Our agreement was pretty simple. Briar would be her usual self and I would do nothing but “momming” and laundry (the laundry part was only acceptable because it is an activity in which Briar likes to participate). We both did very well. Briar had a sort of relentless hunger, so there was much snacking and nursing- though I think some of her “hunger” was simply an eagerness to devour every possible aspect of this unexpected day.
It was so incredible to be able to sit on the floor with her and read and play with blocks, and just generally flit from activity to activity without worrying about accomplishing anything else. I mean, come on, being mom and playmate is accomplishing a lot. Briar had a blast. I could tell each time I followed her to a new play station she would sort of rediscover me as playmate,
“Oh, you are going to do this with me too? (pause) Cool!”
During our laundry intervals Briar would take my hand and toddle behind me as I went to retrieve a basket of clothes to fold. We’d squat in front of the machines, Briar would take the washer and I’d cover the dryer. I’d encourage her to pull something out of the washer, which she did much like a magician pulling scarves out of a hat or sleeve –
(whip, toss behind back, whip, toss behind back, whip, flourish, whip, flourish)
I did my best to hover behind anticipating the trajectory of each wet sock, hoping to snag it from the air rather than the bathroom floor. If you had any idea the size, or peculiar layout of the bathroom, you’d find this story far funnier, or my efforts more laudable. In any case, we both had a great time. The return trip to the living room, Briar would ride in the hamper, atop the warm pile of clean laundry, squealing with delight or loudly pronouncing her hunger as we passed through the kitchen.
I think one of the most refreshing parts of this particular Monday was knowing exactly what was expected of me. I didn’t disappoint Briar, or annoy her. She is so honestly devoid of any artifice or manipulation (except at bedtime) that taking cues from her is as simple as breathing. My body and mind just know what to do. Everything just slipped away. There were no worries, no resentments, just pure enjoyment. And no rules!
I think we should all have to get down on the floor, away from the computer, the telephone and the A-1 priorities.
We should have nap time.
And snack time.
And quiet time.
Why would we think our needs change so much from child to adult?
If anything we need those things more than ever.
The greatest lesson and the simplest lesson that little people have to teach us is to listen to internal cues.
Take care of what you need.
Demand what you need.
This means everything from naps and food to hugs and interaction.
I think we mess up the equation with too much non-essential data. In taking care of yourself you will take care of others. And you’ll do it without resentment.
I needed Monday.
I returned Tuesday.
Wednesday I freaking kicked ass.
Take a day, or a minute. Listen to your cues. Feel how good it feels.
I am getting my bedtime cue.