Tessa and I lying on my bed this morning, staring lovingly and with bemusement into each other's eyes. Sadie walks in and hoists herself onto the bed, throws an arm around her sister and nuzzles her neck, exclaiming, "I just love her so much. I can't help it!"
Little parrot. It makes you realize that they throw your words right back at you, which is a wonderful thing when the words you say are words of love.
Lauren: I just got an email from Roger. He's writing a book with a friend about love and relationships and why everyone in our generation has such a hard time with commitment ("I'd need a good nom de plume. guys wont buy a self-help book, will they? prob not unless it teaches them how to pick up courtney love or paris hilton in a bar.")
Rob: oh, so is it pop psychology? self-help? more like self-psychology.
It helped that as I sat down at my desk after three heavenly months away from it, flowers arrived with a note saying "You're the best mommy. Love, Sadie and Tessa."
So what if it was a lie. If a few benign delusions help you get through the day, go crazy, I say.
My sister dropped me off at the subway this morning on her way to New Jersey with the two girls. I had held it together until that point, focused on packing their bags, assembling my hideous breast pump, searching for my long-abandoned metrocard. But as we pulled up to the 96th street station, Sadie, uncannily intuiting my increasingly anxious state, turned to me and said, "Give me a hug Mommy. It's okay---you go to work and I'll go to camp. It will be a good day and then I'll see you later, okay?"
I walked down the subway stairs with tears streaming down my face, her words lessening the pain of the task at hand and making it that much more unbearable at the same time.
I love being an editor, which is a blessing, so going to work is not torture in and of itself. What's hard is seeking out and helping to shape other people's narratives when it means turning my back on the narratives developing in my own home. After three months spending every day with the two girls, I know now what I'm missing. The tiny, indescribable, unrepeatable moments that make up the dailiness of life with small children.
As it happened, my first day back was pretty good--it was nice to be surrounded by adults again, to traffic in ideas, to eat lunch at a restaurant without a chicken finger or hot dog in sight.
But walking down those subway steps this morning, I couldnt help mourning the fact that a very beautiful bubble was bursting. It felt like I was being exiled from Eden. (A version of Eden in which it was not uncommon to find hardened day-old noodles in the shag rug, but Eden nonetheless.)
That said, those original exiles, Adam and Eve, managed to work and raise a family at the same time. Perhaps in order to preserve our sanity Rob and I need to lower the bar: if we can get through the next few years with no fratricide (or whatever the sisterly equivalent is) to speak of, we'll be well ahead of the game.
Sadie and I were double parked outside the apartment and our neighbor Phil walked by. When I pointed him out to her, Sadie said, "That's not Grandpa Phil. He lives in Las Vegas." Then she paused for a moment, and reaching into her 2-year-old brain, added: "It's hot there. They have sun there. But no water."
Taking a shower: not rocket science, right? Well it sort of is when your two year old's abandonment complex kicks into full gear the minute you close the shower curtain. I turn on the water and immediately Sadie starts howling like I'm blowing her frozen kisses from the dirty window of a train bound for the Gulag.
Recently I discovered that if I tell her I'll get out of the shower as soon as she finishes counting to ten, she won't cry. But that makes one of us. Having to soap up, shampoo your hair, and then wash out your conditioner ("massage into hair and rinse after 3 minutes") in 10 seconds flat is about as satisfying as eating a veggie burger that hasn't fully defrosted.
Today I discovered the answer: Sadie sits on the bathroom floor on her booster seat and, using the toilet as her desk, *reads* her favorite books to me. This way she has a captive audience for "Curious George Goes to the Train Station," "Goodnight Moon," and "The Night Kitchen," and I get to leave my conditioner in for the suggested amount of time. Everyone is happy.