You may remember that we converted the crib into a “bid-durl bed” as F likes to call it, and on most days she really does seem like a “big girl” in her conversation and play. But then naptime rolls around and if she doesn’t fall instantly asleep we hear an unnatural quietness over the baby monitor, and then a strange shuffling sound, or muffled thump, and we decide to check it out upstairs. Sometimes she’s just gotten out of bed to get a few extra friends, or another burpie to cuddle, or to flip on the nightlight even though it’s the middle of the afternoon. Other times, like yesterday, I walk into her room and don’t find her at all – until I look around the corner and see her perched on her chair, standing on tippy-toes to reach the canister on the top shelf of her desk.
“WHAT are you doing up there?” I ask, and she replies with her winningest smile – “I putting my bow away, Mommy,” as if that was the thing I wished most for her to be doing during her nap. On a few occasions we’ve had to turn the bed around so that she cannot get out – we call it switching from a big girl bed to a baby bed. At first we would do this for a few days as a reminder to her that there are penalties for getting out of bed on her own. But now she seems to know when temptation is most likely to get the best of her, and she requests the change before ever laying down. To know when you are beyond tired and just need some good solid rest is a great life skill to master, and it’s particularly encouraging to see that skill in your toddler. Knowing when you might find excuses to stay up a little longer and make mischief is an even greater skill. To know one’s limits. Ah, to be as smart as a two-year-old.
A discussion on another blog that I read really hit home to me last weekend. It began with a quote from writer and poet Emma Lou Thayne, who often said to her children: “I love you with all my heart, but not all my time.”
I read this as I had a few moments to myself – something that I don’t get a tremendous lot of, unless you count the hours I spend at my desk at work. We are at that point in our lives where there is a lot of “tending” required – tending to children and work and school and the house and church, not to mention the laundry and sickness and bugs and occasionally the yard. There are long stretches of time when I am with the kids while M is tackling a project around the house, and while I love spending time with them, I am still not very good at carving out moments for myself. I sneak in moments here and there to write here, I take a few photographs each day, I sort and organize those images and those words in a daily exercise, but it is frequently done in the moments before I wake them up, and while folding a stack of laundry during the upload. Finding the time to go for a long walk (not the rush through three miles that I occasionally get) or sit on the couch for a couple of hours with a book (not the ten minutes I read each night in bed before turning off the light) or an evening out with my husband or a girlfriend or even just myself – those are the times that escape me. I expect my children to pursue those activities and interests that they enjoy and that will form who they are, but I rarely demonstrate my own interests and activities in front of them. I try to do that more and more with E – carving out that time to do something I enjoy along side her, but I need to do more of it with the little one. I want them to grow up to be interesting women – and I wonder if when they look at me, do they see an interesting woman? I can be interesting, but I push that off into the corners of my day. And then I crack with the strain of being too much for too many.
To know one’s limits. I’m working on that.