I had a perfect day with Emma today. I mean, just perfect. Let me tell you about our day, and then I'll explain why it meant so much to me.
We started out by counting the stars on her responsibility chart. This chart allows her to earn "stars" for doing certain chores (like using the potty or picking up her toys). She can then "cash" these stars in for a surprise gift. Usually it's a new My Little Pony, but recently Barnes and Noble sent me a coupon in the email in honor of her birthday for a free cookie, so I decided to save it for her next star chart surprise.
This morning, she happened to hit the number of stars she would need to get her surprise and so we got dressed and went to Barnes and Noble. She chose a gigantic shortbread cookie with rainbow sprinkles and proudly sat on a "big girl chair" while taking her sweet time eating it. I grabbed a nearby magazine and frankly watched her enjoy the cookie more than I read the magazine. She was so happy; so proud of herself.
We then wandered a bit and she found a case of 12 My Little Pony board books that come as a sort of collection. She fell in love with it and dragged it around the store with her. (It really is rather heavy). She was so incredibly polite about asking me if she could please have it, and so I told her she could, because of her birthday. Her eyes lit up more than I expected and she thanked me with a syrupy, "Oh thank you mommy!" It was so dramatic and overdone, but it made me want to do cartwheels! I totally ate it up.
We left Barnes and Noble and went food shopping together. She asked for one of those carts with the truck attached to the front so she can "drive around" the store. She was still working on that giant cookie. At one point she had her juice box in one hand, a cookie in the other, and started "driving" the truck with her feet. It was hilarious. We were both laughing so hard!
There was no fighting. No arguing. Just totally and genuinely enjoying each other's company.
We came home, had mac and cheese for dinner, and took showers. She decided she didn't want to wear any clothing after her shower, and I had no problem with it. Especially since she always uses the potty more when she doesn't have a stitch on. So I let her run wild. She settled down to watch some Mulan and I laid down to watch a movie of my own in a different room. I can't sit on the couch in her playroom, it hurts my back.
A short while later, Emma came over to me on the couch and said that her "boonky" was cold, which is how she describes her behind. She climbed up next to me on the couch and we were both facing my iPad, which is how I was watching a movie. She reached over her shoulder, grabbed the hem of my pajama, and pulled it over her legs. In five minutes she was asleep. As naked as the day she was born, my baby was completely silent, still, and asleep in my arms.
I didn't move a muscle for an hour and a half. I'm still sore, but I wanted the moment to last for a lifetime. Two-year-olds never stop moving. And already she thinks I hug her too long. I actually had a chance to hold her, without any interruptions; without anything keeping me from her.
Which is why I
Things are definitely looking up for my family, in all of the above areas. The Masters is done, but I'm finishing up a post-grad certification - it's complicated. Suffice it to say, I have one more grad class left. I took two classes over the summer, but they ended two weeks ago. Which means for the first time since Emma's been born, I've been healthy enough to be her mother, AND I've had the time to do something about it.
I've missed so much of her life. She's going to be three on Saturday and I feel like I barely know her. Every day she says things that amaze and delight me. Everybody says that she looks and acts like me, but there are so many times where I wish I could be more like her!
She's the kind of person that can't abide a frown; she will make faces at you until you laugh! She is the most caring and sensitive person I've ever met, and she's so incredibly confident and outgoing. And that's not because of her age - that's her! It's who she is and I love every inch of her, inside and out, just the way she is.
I have so enjoyed these past two precious weeks with her and I'm heartbroken that school starts again on Thursday. I only have one day left with her before it's back to a life of my job and grad school coming first. Back to my every conversation with her being, "Emma, I can't now" or "Emma, please go play" or "Mike, please come get Emma, I have work to do...".
I love her so much and I wish I could apologize to her. I wish I could explain to her that mommy needs to go to school so we can afford to put her in school, so that we can afford to give her the life that we want to give her. I wish I could explain to her that mommy needs to lie down so that I can get better and pick her up and swing her around and give her piggy-back-rides and run around playing tag. But she doesn't understand. All she's ever known is that mommy doesn't want her. It's torn me apart for years and now that I've finally, FINALLY, had a chance to really be her mom. I don't want to stop yet.
I'm not saying I wish I were a stay-at-home-mom. I know that I'm not the kind of person for whom that would be a good fit. I just wish that circumstances were different, or that I could have had a crystal ball and avoided some of this mess. I would have done the Masters first, or waited until she was older to start it. I would have taken better care of myself. I would have, could have, should have.
That 20/20 hindsight is a bitch.
Anyway, the point is, being a mom and a professional and a student and everything else everyone is to the world is hard. It's really hard. When all's said and done you feel like a lump of swiss cheese, with everyone having taken a piece out of you. I know that working and finishing my coursework isn't an option, but I will always jealousy hoard the moments when I get to only be one person, for a little while. Emma's mom. Just Emma's mommy. Sometimes, that's all I want and all I need.