Only For a Moment
My eyes travel across the pictures that grace the walls of my bedroom, taking in the ultrasound image of a sweet, unborn face. A snapshot of a swaddled babe snug in her bassinet hangs next to an image of a smiley toddler holding our hands at the shore. It feels like just yesterday that I was in the hospital giving birth to my little girl. But, my daughter is three, and time continues to speed along faster than I can grasp. The woman I once was is now skilled in extreme multitasking, instant decision-making, and the ability to wave off frustrations the way one shakes sand from a beach blanket. Life as a parent moves swiftly, and it’s difficult to hold onto anything for too long whether good, bad, beautiful or ugly. Parenting a child is a lot about going with the flow; because today is constant flow.
Today she makes me smile.
I wake to her voice reverberating from her room at the end of the hall. I steal a few more minutes in the soft sea of blankets and pillows, with the enchanting sound of the Minnie Mouse voice singing about monkeys jumping on the bed. I picture tiny hands holding stuffed animals as they leap from crib’s edge. When I close my eyes, the sweet notes reach my ears until she finally stops and calls out, “Mommy.” Then I rise from my bed, eager to reach the sunshine beyond the nursery door, her welcoming beam already an imprint in my mind.
Today she makes me crazy.
It’s impossible to tune out the ceaseless siren calls for “MOMMY,” so I break from my short exercise routine for the fifth time only to find that nothing is wrong. Crayons fall like heavy rains, striking against the wood floor as I rescue Play-Doh from between the cracks of the weathered coffee table. My child screeches as a small droplet of toothpaste settles on her shirt. I stand outside her room with my eyes closed, trying to tune out the thunder of angry little fists. I look at the clock, and I am overwhelmed. It’s only eleven in the morning.
Today she makes me proud.
I cheer in silence, watching my daughter choose perfectly matched clothes and dress herself without help. She pretends to dust the house, and I am proud. At the playground, the trees dance in the wind.They celebrate with me as we catch her words, “Thank you for helping me.” said to the little boy who helped her to the top of the slide. I marvel at her ability to sing songs and recall details that happened nearly a year ago. With every question, polite response, and new discovery I feel proud this little human is my daughter.
Today she makes me question my parenting.
Standing at the checkout counter my daughter screams like a victim in a horror movie, failing in her multiple efforts to swipe my credit card through the machine. A formidable line of impatience forms behind us. My discreet attempts at taking the card from her hand are met with howling and flailing arms. Suddenly I am a mouse of a woman to this sea of onlookers, weak-willed and unable to take control. I cringe in shame. Maybe I should be more firm. My mask of composure slips a bit more with each unsuccessful swipe of the card. But, suddenly my vision turns from red to rainbow, little fingers now distracted with plucking stickers offered by a merciful employee.
Today she makes me exhausted.
I make four meals, much of it tossed away more quickly than it was prepared. I tidy up toys, clothes and art supplies only to watch them surface again seconds later like a tiny storm . In the afternoon sun I climb jungle gyms and chase my daughter through the playground. I fly 28lbs of giggling airplane around the house over and over just to relive the joy it creates. I read books; brush mini teeth, and prepare bedrooms for slumber. Finally, my husband walks through the door to find me almost asleep on the couch.
Today she makes my heart hurt.
Today she brightens my life more than anything in this world can. She throws her arms around me and tells me she loves me. She rests her head on my shoulder while I read her a book. Realizing she’s made me upset she says, “I’m sorry mommy,” her wide blue-grey eyes waiting for my face to calm. When she laughs, I look for reasons to keep her laughing. Before bedtime she asks to snuggle in “mommy’s bed,” and cuddles by my side.
In my third year of motherhood I’ve learned that everything is only for a moment. The key to happiness amidst the chaos is in shaking off the toughest instances and in memorizing the most memorable. Every day is a journey with highs and lows. It is said that memories are always better than the experience. I suspect this is true because one is more inclined to remember those moments filled with love, joy, and wonder.
Today was a beautiful day; at least, that’s how I’ll remember it.
Marisa Svalstedt is a stay-at-home mom living in Connecticut, with her husband, and their daughter. She received her MA in English from Western Connecticut State. Her writing has been featured on Babble, The Mighty, ParentCo, Her View from Home, and many other publications. In addition to writing she enjoys photography, crochet, and jumping on trampolines.