I need to do mess better.
I try so hard. I really do. I am learning to go with her flow. I am trying not to control. I let her use all the colors. I let her draw stripes on her leg so she can be a “stripey zebra.” I laugh it off when they don’t wash out. I let her paint all over my “zen art”. I am letting go of the product mentality and embracing the process.
We’d had a lovely morning.
Then, she didn’t want to have lunch. I insist (she has to eat, right?) and suddenly I’m Mean Mommy who needs to be put in her place. I let my guard down and she pours cold water all over my joy. All over the laminate floor.
I am learning to make peace with the spills; she is learning to wipe those up. But the defiant, angry pours seep deep into the tiny cracks that I don’t yet know how to repair.
This is not her “discovering gravity” or “exploring her senses.” This is not the necessary mess of a child’s experiential expansion, the joyful mess of play. It’s a deliberate display of tiny person power.
The morning is over. My little girl is gone and in her place is a pouting monster. She will not sit in her chair. She will not eat her food. She wants only my water. She pours that, too.
Lunch is over. She has not eaten. Now she is angry and hungry. I try to make peace. I take her hand and she hugs me. We go out into the garden. She wants to have a tea party. With colored water. Just like we did the other day (another lovely morning). She is happy. I am happy. She is careful until I say it’s almost time to take a bath.
She pours. I roar. Our helper comes to wipe the mess away. But not before I hear E laughing. She is sprawled on the floor, in the middle of mess, splashing in the water. “I’m a mermaid,” she giggles. They giggle.
I am there for the messes. I want to be there for the mermaids.
File this under "meaning to". Also filed under "but didn't".
"I don't want people to say I'm beautiful."
"Mommy, stay. Because you're the best mommy." She needed a partner in crime for the pouring. Today, she found one.
There is freedom in being a complete beginner and in saying I have no idea what I'm doing.
Today, I let her win.
"I don't want to play with you." And there it is. Her unexpressed anger and sadness. In my head, I understand it; in my heart, it's a knife, twisted.
"Is it three weeks yet?" I'd told her that Baby Brother was coming in three weeks, three weeks ago. He was due. He was overdue.
There are sentences I know I would never, could never, write. Reading high-end shelter mags, feeling twangs of pen envy.