5:17 am on this fine San Francisco pre-dawn.
After three days of heat the City is mercifully blanketed in a beautiful blanket of fog, but there will be no more laying about under the covers for me. My daughter is AWAKE. She announces this loudly and angrily and the lack of sunlight does not convince her that it is not yet morning.
Oh when will the day that I can sleep in finally come?
She asks for yogurt and I manage to scoop some in a bowl despite the fact that my eyelids are still glued shut. (I’m really attractive right now, trust me.)
Oh when will the day come that I can leisurely sip a cup of coffee in the morning?
After breakfast she clamps her arms around my neck and no amount of pleading or reasoning will make her let go, so I resign myself to using the bathroom with my toddler necklace.
Oh when will the day come that I can just pee ALONE?
Since we’ve left our old routine and childcare behind I have wished and hoped for some time to myself, and today that break will come in the form of a wonderful home daycare that Aliza will attend three mornings a week.
Just get through the next few hours and you can nap or write or watch the forbidden television!
While we move through the morning routine I notice that along with her intense need for mommy is her intense need to separate from mommy, so she has gotten dressed ‘bahmahself!’ eaten her buckwheat breakfast ‘bahmahself!” and peed in the potty ‘bahmahself!’
‘Bahmahself’ only takes seventeen times longer than with mommy’s help but I let it slide.
As we drive I repeat the plan for the morning over and over again, pausing to let her fill in the blanks…
We’re driving to…
Aliza will play with her…
Mommy will be at…
And after lunch…
mommy will come!
As we walk towards her teacher she grips my index finger with her hand, but I don’t dwell on how small and fragile this makes her seem because my internal dialogue must be upbeat and confident so she knows that everything will be okay.
New friends arrive and I wait for the right moment to say goodbye.
Another mother and daughter part, and the girl cries and calls out for her mommy. Aliza witnesses the scene quietly and I lean down to remind her that her friend is feeling sad but will soon want to play and have fun.
She pulls me in a direction towards the bumpy log and magical fairy flower garden and commands me to come, I choose this as my time to go and encourage her to ‘say goodbye to mommy and play with our friends.’
She contemplates this for a beat as I hold my breath and in the next moment she makes her decision ‘goodbye mommy’
and lets go of my hand.
I’m honestly stunned by this and mentally clamp my mouth shut to avoid breaking her resolve, I make eye contact with her teacher and nod that I am in fact leaving, turn around and walk away.
I allow myself one final glance at her as I start the car, she is holding her teacher’s hand without any tears that I can see.
So naturally by the time I pull out on the main street a whole fountain is streaming down my face.
Isn’t’ this exactly what I wanted? Isn’t some down time absolutely necessary to be refreshed and fully present for her?
Shouldn’t I be gleefully speeding down the highway on my way to some higher calling like volunteer work (or let’s be real a manicure)?
Instead I cry the whole way home keenly aware of the absence of her trilling ‘where are we going’ song on repeat.
Come back! I miss you.
The paradox of motherhood.