ok, i was walking the dog, something i do after greg gets home to get out of the house for a second and to calm my frazzled nerves, but this time it was the middle of the day. greg and ruth were gone. alone. together. something that, sadly, usually never happens, to our local daddy daughter dance. as i walked, i felt it, this burning desire deep in my chest that everything would go well. not just ok. i was hoping for a miracle, that this would be one of the times that ruth surprises us and totally takes to something you’d never think she would. any time this happens, it is pure elation. for me. these moments can sometimes be very few and far between, and with her latest phase coming to a head, the pitting her willpower against ours at every opportunity phase, combined with her, if this is even possible, intensified clingy-ness to me, and to top it all off, she’s begun to say on a regular basis, for no reason, “i don’t like daddy”, we could use a bit of elation around here.
as i walked through the powdery snow, over peoples’ too slippery walkways, trying not to fall on my ass, i breathed in the warmish (for february) air and felt the sun on my face, my thoughts with greg and ruth, but they had a dangerous quality to them, an intense yearning that gave them tremendous weight. i knew it was unhealthy to wish so strongly for something like that, especially when it is merely a remote possibility. like, when you were a kid, and you hoped your parents would finally say “yes” to a puppy, when you know it’s a huge gamble, but you put all your eggs in one basket anyway, hoping for the big payoff (guess i should never try gambling. i’d probably become an instant addict and simultaneously loose all my money in one shot). i couldn’t help myself. i wanted, needed, this event to go well for greg, and myself. someone needed to throw me a frickin’ bone.
after i got home, i had a bath, desperately needed one, although i’ve reached that stage of pregnancy where my stomach muscles are pretty much useless, so when i lay back in the tub, i’m like a huge beached whale, or some other awkward animal that’s totally out of place, and can’t sit back up without much struggle and grunting. plus, i basically fill the bottom of the tub these days, with my large overgrown belly. it’s not pretty, folks. then i decided to bake, which i never understood as relaxing as some people describe it, until i had a daughter. the perfect measurements, the order of operations, the consistent outcome (mostly). everything that’s missing in my day to day life with ruth. order. rules. yes, things make sense in the world of baking. food has properties that you can always count on. unlike my daughter, who seems to be a constantly changing little ball of heart and bone. i tried not to imagine what i would feel like, the huge weight that would be lifted, if they came home all smiles, regaling me with excited details of the party. please, i thought, please.
but then, i stopped myself and tried to concentrate on baking. in my mind, i know a stupid daddy daughter dance doesn’t matter one iota. especially one with a two year old. again, i stood back from myself and felt the danger of my feelings that sat at once like a rock of dread and defeat in my belly and up in my lungs like a bird fiercely flapping it’s wings to escape my mouth. this dance, i thought, it just shouldn’t matter this much. i know i’m doing something wrong as a parent to be putting so much emphasis on this dance. but i’m not sure what. that’s the problem. parents have feelings too, although, sometimes, it would be better if we didn’t. if i could just calmly see the right direction in every situation, ignore other peoples’ stares, judgement and just go about my task of raising a person, that would be great. or if i could just accept the crazy things she does as part of her development and calmly lead her towards more self control instead of seeing it all as a personal attack on me, like she’s trying to make my life a living hell. if i didn’t rely so heavily on her “success” at stupid things like a daddy daughter dance to feel some sort of fulfillment. like i’m doing something right.
they came back in short order, ruth asleep in the back of the car, greg giving me an unecstatic thumbs up from the driver’s seat, which i took to mean, “well, we made it. we’re in one piece and she did….ok.” i’m not gonna lie, my heart sank a little, but i tried to feel happy. when you are a parent, you cling to small victories. and, at least they made it in the door and stayed for pizza and punch. i half expected them to return back home after twenty minutes or so. i found out later that, whereas all of the other girls were in princess ballgowns, ruth wore an every day pair of pants and a shirt and to top it off, refused to take her coat off. she didn’t dance at all and was bothered by the loud music, and they left after about an hour of getting there when ruth lost it because she accidentally smeared some pizza sauce across her face. but, hey, like i said, small victories. i’ll take whatever i can get. what i have to keep telling myself is it just doesn’t mean a goddamn thing and focus on the things that do. staying positive, being a good role model, being consistent myself, and creating a comfortable safe environment for her to grow up in. still, a little cheap, instant gratification once in a while wouldn’t hurt anything.