Today when I went to get my daughter from her daddy’s house, she was mad at me.
Men, you can relate to this I am sure–and women too: When a woman is mad at you, and she gives you brief responses (if you’re lucky to get that even) and physically gives you the cold shoulder like, “Don’t even talk to me fool.”
Well, that was my daughter.
Being 3 years old means she doesn’t fully understand why mommy and daddy have to live in different households. To her, me dropping her off and coming back a day later is as if I have told her– I don’t want you– which couldn’t be further from the truth.
It is one thing to be broken hearted myself and quite another to see my independent, beautiful, intelligent, and happy child broken-hearted.
And while many 3 year olds can’t verbalize their pain regarding divorce or separation, mine can. Mine can say that she is mad she can’t see me for a few days. Mine can ask daddy to come back home. Mine can say she’s sad and wants one household. Mine can attempt to manipulate the situation and say things to hurt my feelings. Our daughter is certainly gifted, and while it has its blessings, it’s also a curse in some aspects. She has emotions she can articulate yet can’t quite fully understand.
When I brought my daughter into the world, her first year of life was probably the happiest year of my life, bar none. Being an MTV personality and stand-up comic was great, and while I still love doing comedy, nothing felt like bringing her into the world. Quite honestly, I think the hormones of breast feeding certainly helped and the fact that she was such a ridiculously easy baby.
To watch my little one regress in some aspects and lash out, is probably the most devastating event I have witnessed.
I’m sure one or two parents that don’t know her might think, “Oh wow, she’s just a mean kid,” but I know better. I see her daily. I have watched her grow. I have been there almost full-time for her whole little life. She is sweet, intelligent, imaginative, verbal, detailed, strong-willed, stubborn,intense, and fun-spirited…but any child whose life is turned upside down would struggle somewhat.
Today she tested me. I felt so exhausted at 6pm that I wanted to cry. Part of it was the heat and active day we had. Part of it was a lack of sleep from a week of worrying about her and my dad, who was hospitalized for his heart, but the other part of it was the power plays between me and her. Some of that is just normal 3 year-old stuff. Heck, some of the strong-willed stuff is just typical “threenager” little girl stuff. Her classroom this year–her first year of preschool–was full of strong-willed girls.
And by the way, as an aside, she went to a Montessori school, which we loved. I highly recommend!
Anyway, she knows she shouldn’t do what she does. She wants to do what is right, but inside her little beating heart she is angry at the cards she has been dealt, and I can’t blame her.
As her mother, I feel intensely responsible, and intensely connected to her emotions. I have worked hard to not react but inside, as she goes through her little dance with me and herself, I feel it–I just hold it inside so as not to let her see. It’s tiring. Every second. Just like when she was in the womb, moving, kicking, and rolling.
Tonight we couldn’t have movie night because of choices she made, and at the end of the night, she asked to curl up to me.
Lately, sleeping alone can be hard for her and I have decided that if she needs to sleep with me, or just be cuddled, or sang to longer, I will do it.
Feeling tired, I curled up next to her, put my head on her pillow as she held my hand.
She started to sing “Happy Together” by the Turtles. I used to play that song to her daily in the womb, while I suffered from hyperemesis.
“Me and you and you and me. No matter how we toss the dice, it had to be.”
We sing back and forth, and as I drifted to sleep–she was still awake–she kept the song going.
No matter if we are happy or heartbroken or angry, she and I are always together.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For the Mommies and Daddies whose families are no longer together.