I know what you’re thinking. You’re filled with pity for me and my toddler because I’m tooling around on Facebook while she plays by herself. If only I understood how precious and fleeting childhood is, I wouldn’t be chatting online while these irretrievable grains of sand slip through my fingers.
You think my daughter is bereft of love and affection based on this brief snapshot of our lives. You imagine her gazing longingly at other families and wondering how her life might have been.
You think I shouldn’t have had a child if I can’t tear myself away from my electronic binky for five minutes.
Some of the more brain-damaged among you think my daughter would be better off in foster care, where her risks of true neglect and abuse would skyrocket, than to have a mother who doesn’t gaze adoringly at her as she goes down the slide for the 47th time.
I know what you’re thinking because you can’t stop talking about it on Facebook.
I don’t claim to be intervening in a friend’s personal crisis or answering an important email about a dying relative. Sometimes I am doing those things, but not today. Today I am looking at funny pictures of cats.
These pictures are hilarious. Seriously, you’re missing out.
I am also keeping half of my brain on my daughter, because, frankly, looking at photos of cats doesn’t take that much attention. I am paying enough attention to notice her get pushed down by some bigger girls, and I intervene. Their father is not on his cell phone, yet he doesn’t notice his kids picking a fight with a baby. I’m told only parents on phones are so easily distracted, so I’m not sure how this is possible. I go back to my cats when she is off examining wood chips, because she doesn’t need me for that.
I am a stay-at-home mom. Aside from mooching off my husband’s talents and sitting around on my expanding arse all day, I spend a lot of time interacting with my daughter. We nurse in the morning. She is 2 years old and still nursing, which is no doubt scarring her for life in its own way. I make her breakfast and we play. She helps put the clothes in the dryer. We go to the grocery store, and she puts the food on the conveyor belt. We take a toddler class at the rec center. She helps me cook. She helps me recover from all of her helping.
In short, my toddler is surgically attached to my backside 11 hours a day, 7 days a week. During the brief snippets of time in which she is content to be on her own, I am delighted to be doing something the fuck else.
I accept that this period of our lives will pass, to be replaced by something else. She will morph from a toddler into a pre-schooler, into a big kid, into a teenager, and finally into a woman, and I will miss every stage even as I embrace the new one. I will not, however, get sucked into pre-emptive mourning. Living in the moment doesn’t mean grasping desperately at those moments, trying to capture them like fireflies in a mason jar.
I also accept that you are a better parent than I am in every way. Your capacity to love is unmatched. Your child will grow up to be attractive, smart, affectionate, successful and good at shuffleboard. The best I can hope for my daughter is that her father’s love will compensate for my failings enough to keep her from a life of prostitution and simmering rage.
Please pray for us.