I just wrote the other day about forgetting, losing the possession of the little ‘isms’ of this time in the girls’ lives. It’s true though, already the memories are taking on a bit of a watercolor consistency, the loopy ringlets blur, no longer dark and light, but varying shades of honey and chocolate, tilting to and fro on the back of one bouncing little head. They are one magnificent spirit in my heart, running, pants and skirts flapping at their ankles, sticks and wands raised in their hands. Or hand. The images, as I said, have blurred.
This afternoon I was testing a new approach for nap time, a Let’s try and have quiet time. If you don’t sleep, it’s ok. When quiet time is over we’ll go downstairs. Are you laughing yet? Because it failed, oh how it failed. For Avery there was not enough structure, for Briar it was incessant questioning about whether quiet time was over and if not how soon would it be over and why exactly do we have to be quiet and is this quiet enough and…you get the idea, no?
I really was managing ok there for a while. I calmly and rationally explained that this was a way for everyone to get what they needed. A compromise. Avery could take the nap she needed, Briar could avoid a nap and mom could work quietly on her computer with diminished guilt. The thing is rational holds no water for kids and calm gets lost when rationality is disputed. Perhaps third trimester pregnancy plays a role in the swift loss of calm, but I hate giving hormones all the blame.
So it was that after twenty minutes of not-so-quiet time I began to lose my cool. Why can’t they understand I am doing this for them? That this is a way for me to sit with them. Weren’t the projects enough? Why do they have to fight me? They weren’t thoughts I was proud of having, their ricochets on the inside of my head sounded whinier with each bounce. I stood to reset and walked toward Briar.
She quivered in place, so eager to have quiet time be over, so happy to have my attention and so nervous she would say the wrong thing. “It’s ok honey. Let me cuddle with you and we’ll do quiet time together, ok?”
She took a ragged breath, “Ok mama, that’s so nice,” she began stroking my face, “If I can be a good girl now that I am six and not sick anymore than we can have quiet time be done and have no bad words that get me locked in my room.” My insides tightened, not far off from a contraction, as the sweetness of her words and the confusion of her message etched a hollow in my heart, “We’ll live here, these words uttered from the lips of your first-born. We’ll be here when you sit in traffic, when you wait outside an emergency room door and we’ll be here, full of life, as you watch from a wooden seat as she walks down the aisle and into a life of her own.” I swallowed tears as she smiled at me, her thoughts far away and her worry gone.
I kissed her brow and slipped from her bed over to Avery’s. “Now it’s your turn,” I whispered. She grinned at me and athletically twisted her body over and wrapped me in her arms, “You cuddle a’me.” She began pawing at my shirt, tugging at the sleeve and neckline to get to my skin. She still reaches for my body though no longer nursing. Her fingers seek out the familiar contours of my neck, the muscle on my shoulder and the tiny mole alongside my bra strap. “Is yours, is mine,” she murmurs, a confirmation, all that is mine is hers. If she only knew. I burrow my face in her collar as the waves of emotion overwhelm me. Her slender neck, the curls that nip at her strong jawline, I can see them years from now as she runs across the track or skips in from outside. The nearness of her older version steals my breath and I wonder how I’ll make it.
I lift my head to look at her, but she thinks I am leaving, “You cuddle me a little bit of tiny?” And I am undone. A little bit of tiny. It was Briar’s. She would plead for “a little bit of tiny,” at bedtime for more lotion, at dinner time for more ketchup, at the park for more time. “A little bit of tiny.” And there it was, springing from Avery’s plump lips.
For every damning I lay against myself I find redemption in these girls. A missed occasion, an undocumented milestone a dashed hope, or a forgotten memory, each is erased by some unexpected bit of magic. New wonder trumps old pain. I cannot fathom in what ways they will ease my burden of having failed them as we navigate the days and years ahead, but I know they will. And maybe, just maybe, along the way I’ll weave some magic of my own, filling up their reserves so as they move forward in their own lives, enduring nerve wracking interviews and suffering through bad dates, they’ll hear my voice echoing from some where deep inside offering just, “a little bit of tiny” to see them through.
Only you will remember the impatient times. It will only hurt you. Cold comfort, I know.
You are such a loving human being. Please don't beat yourself up.
A little bit of tiny gets us all through the day.
Your girls are so sweet, I could just squeeze 'em! 🙂
Don't worry, quiet time will work, eventually… they just need to get used to it.
Hang in there, Mama.
Awwww. I'm all teary again. Quit doing that to me!
i have to admit, my mom and i thought that "little bit of tiny" was so cute, that i've occasionally said it to her. i mix it with something i used to say when i was little: "hold you, mommy." when i wanted to be held, i would put my arms up and say, "hold you, mommy." now, when i want to snuggle with her, i say, "hold you, mommy, little bit of tiny?"
hope you don't mind. 😛
Darlin'. You have the most beautiful way with telling us all exactly what is going on in your life. A little bit of tiny and you and your girls gives me such a wonderful sense of peace.
I know that you don't always feel the same, but in this crazy world of mine, you are my rock. And my sweetness.
you give all of us a little bit of tiny.
truly, your motherness astounds.
Yes, they will always here your voice offering them "a little bit of tiny".
You have an amazing way with words that create these beautiful moments with your girls.
i must second what jen said…
thank you 🙂
Lovely post. Thank you.
Beautiful. You have such a gift…You capture motherhood perfectly. Thanks.
Again, I am in tears and undone.
I'm so glad your failed attempt at "quiet time" turned into an unforgettable, and totally lovable moment.
A little bit of tiny….
choked me up
I LOVE reading your posts…you sum it up exactly as it shall be…
That a child … ANY child, anywhere, at any time … could say without hesitation or reservation, but with complete confidence and comfort, "Is yours, is mine," is the most beautiful demonstration of perfection in a sense of security and peace.
Your telling of life's stories caresses my soul.
Somehow, all I can think is, "No maybe's about it".
oh, sigh. sniffle and sigh.
oh wow–a little bit of tiny.
my heart lurched a littler reading this.
Running on empty
What an absolutely beautiful post, even if I now have a big frog in my throat and don't want to tear up at work!
Wonderful. Thank you!
Yes!!! I KNOW tha I have already commented on you and your story.
But that was THAT day. And this is THIS day … when I came back, re-read, and enjoyed all over again.
I'm sort of in awe of your cool head, your unwillingness to give in to the impatience that grabs me and tackles me down so often.
It's a lovely gift to give your girls.
a little bit of tiny may just be the sweetest request I've ever heard.
Oh, this brought tears to my eyes Amanda.
You already are weaving magic for them, every day — you just can't always see it, but do not doubt that it is there. Those sweet, sweet girls are proof.
Beautiful post, thank you!
When you write posts like these — Mama Sap — there is really no comment I can make. I just drink it in. All I can do is say thank you.