Tuesday, March 11, 2008

wait for it

Kindergarten registration forms came in the mail the other day. I shake my head, trying to order my thoughts. I have been a parent for five years; it hardly seems like one. Five years ago today I'd have just been to my six-week postpartum visit with my obstetrician; I would be spending my days lounging on the sofa with my beautiful baby, basking in the excitement of having my baby. I never even considered her my first baby...she was just my baby. Most of the time, it was just the two of us. We would cuddle, take naps, watch trashy daytime television.

And for half of those five years, it was just the two of us most of the time, and three when Daddy came home from work. For two and a half years I lived and breathed her. I couldn't wait for her next big milestone. When would she smile? When would she roll over? Eat mushy cereal? Stand up? Walk? Run? I couldn't wait.

When she cried, the cats would be almost as upset, poking their noses in her face in a feline attempt at comfort. And when she was that small, I knew what she needed from me. I could tell when she was hungry, when she was tired, or needed to have her stinky nappy removed. I was probably a little obsessive about making sure her needs were met. I'm like that, pre-emptive, I guess. I just couldn't wait to meet her next need. Couldn't. Wait.

Then Wee Man was born. I was almost two weeks overdue, and was scheduled for an induction Wednesday morning. I remember putting her to bed that Tuesday night, and being overwhelmed with sadness. It was the last night that I could put her to bed and spend as long as I wanted reading and talking with her. It was the last day that I could give her all the attention she wanted, and I realized it after I had kissed her goodnight and she had fallen asleep. It didn't occur to me that morning when I woke up, or as we played during the day, or even as we were reading at bedtime. It came too late. I cried and cried. I felt as if I was experiencing a death, rather than anticipating the sweet babe we would welcome in the next day. I still have that grief in my heart, and it stings this Tuesday night the same way it stung that Tuesday night. I'm still crying and rubbing my sad, drippy eyes and nose on my sleeve. I felt like I was abandoning her, even betraying her.

And there's a lot of times that I think she believes I have betrayed her by having the boys.

The past two and a half years have been a whirwind. Wee Man was born, when he was 11 months old, we found out we were preggers with HB...18 weeks preggers with HB. I think I've been more shocked maybe once in my life. Wee Man was a completely easy baby, except for the nearly debilitating postpartum depression, and so is HB, except for not actually sleeping at night for the first 11.5 months of his life.

It has been only recently that I am feeling a little bit like myself again. It must have been awful for my girl to have her life flip around like that, a new, needy sibling, another one, mom gone off the deep end of crazy. If I had a nickel, a penny even, for every time she says she wishes it were just her, me, and Daddy...Don't get me wrong, I adore my boys. I love them ferociously. But I feel like I have failed Miss O.

I have done the best that I can. I'm not saying that to make an excuse, as in 'I've done the best I can, BUT...' It's true. I do the best I am able. But what happens when that's not good enough? Miss O is completely brilliant, and even at five she is asking questions like that. And I can't answer her. Because I don't know what happens when the best you can do isn't good enough. In the rest of my life, I have excelled at many things, almost never having to do my best in order to be far better than good enough. But in this time and in this place, I am working my ass off, all day long, and often most nights, and I am letting my daughter down.

And now she is ready to go to school. I realize that Kindergarten is six months away. But six months is a breath. When that time is up, she'll be gone. Not moving to Canada, gone, but away from me, gone.

Going to school is a huge, GINORMOUS milestone. I'm not going to be waiting for this one to come around, though. I have learned my lesson.

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talk to me, people. because you know i get all giddy when you do.