The permanent record. Just thinking about writing everything down ... every little burp and hiccup ... makes my palms sweat.
Like all parents, I make note of the firsts: the first smile, the first laugh, the first word ... but I can't seem to commit to paper all the firsts that haven't been so pleasant.The first colicky night, the first high fever, the first tantrum, leading to the second tantrum and then the third ...
Get the picture?
I've tried to be positive. I've tried to turn each and every of the little miss' missteps into a learning opportunity. But the opportunities seem endless and my patience finite.
Why just the other day ... from sunup until sundown as a matter of fact ... Ittybit was testing my ability to refrain from checking e-bay's policy on listing preschoolers. The pleases and thank-yous that once came so naturally to her have been replaced by demands in nasty tones. The furrowed brows I once referred to as "storm clouds on the horizon" often erupt in volcanic proportions. And like her, I lose my cool at every turn. Before parenthood whine was something that came from a vineyard and is goes nicely with cheese.
Her testing ways have set me on edge.
My nice words have gone, too. I can hardly remember to keep the tone in my voice a click below rage sometimes.
Everything out of my mouth lately has been preceeded by one or any combination of the following phrases:
DON'T DO THAT!
I'M NOT HAPPY!
YOU MUST BE GENTLE!
NO! NO! NO!
STOP THAT NOW!
DON'T MAKE ME COUNT!
I try to remember just how much has changed in the past few months. I try to remind myself how many adjustments she, especially, has made. There was a time when she'd tell the world that "when you get a baby brother people are always saying 'congratulations'. But recently when I ask her what people say now that she has a baby brother she doesn't even have to think it over. "They say 'be careful!'"
Saying 'no' all the time is draining.
Keeping her at bay as he's crying and needy; pushing her back while she's pawing at him, begging to hold him even as he's screaming like he's being stuck with pins is exasperating. I find myself counting the hours and minutes until my husband's truck rolls home and I can hand over the kids and take a walk. A long, long walk.
Until then I try to keep it together. I try to find a new activity to replace the one that's growing old. It's never a seamless transition.
And it's not seamless for any of us.
While the Champ squirms and fidgets and cries under the weight of her kisses, I think about other times I've witnessed him stop squirming and fidgeting and crying in her mighty embrace. How he's even reached for her hand when she holds it out in his direction.
On the occasions he screams in her lap, I hear the pain in her voice when she tells me he doesn't like her.
I tell her that he loves her, trying to reassure her. A white lie, perhaps, but one that has a fundamental truth: Love doesn't always feel good. It doesn't always say sweet things in your ear. Sometimes it's loud and shrill and ill-tempered. But even if its voice is horse, love is always there trying to set itself upright. Wanting to lift itself higher.
Love stumbles sometimes, too. It's just too bad there isn't a little less permanence in the permanent record.