Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pause Button

I'm currently listening to Berit scream in the bathtub while her dad pours water onto a tiny little boo-boo that caused much drama today. She doesn't whine quietly, she doesn't whimper -- she always, always yells. She opens her mouth really wide, like one of those singers who hits really big, high notes, and s-c-r-e-a-m-s. She did that a lot today. Granted, she's tired. She's tired a lot lately, which is and isn't strange. I mean, she hates taking naps, so we got used to just going with her flow and letting her skip. But then, when we instituted a rigid schedule of dinner at 5, bath at 6, bed by 7, she started getting super drowsy in the middle of the day and sometimes drifting off in a high chair or on the floor. But that's not what this post is about; I could write a book on our sleep struggles with her and I just don't have the time right now (as if it would solve anything, anyway. My shelves are filled with books about "helping" kids learn to sleep, and so far they just make ME more tired from reading them/implementing them).

Back to the more positive topic of whining. She whined a lot this afternoon, and kept asking to do things "with YOU, Mama." And, like I do often enough, I took a look at what I was doing from her point-of-view, and noticed that I was so wrapped up in Marta that really I was letting B play near us, not with us. But I'll tell you what, I don't know what else to do. Marta loses it when I put her down. If we're all sitting on the floor, she has to be on my lap. And I could just make her cry it out, but gosh, that'd mean I'd be sitting on the floor watching my baby sob, trying to lurch herself onto my lap. I can't do it. And I guess we do do stuff together, but really not what Berit wants to do. Later in the day Berit asked, "When we get home, is Marta going to go to sleep or be awake?" And I said, "What do you want her to do?" (You might think the answer would be obvious, but Berit really does love her little sis, so I was unsure.) And she said, "Go to sleep. Then she's a good girl."

And I feel like I just need time. I have a pile of freelance work up to my neck to do, but I don't dare break away when I have time for Berit, because she clearly needs the attention. I need a pause button. I need to pause Marta to play games with Berit. Today Berit picked up a book and paged through it, naming every shape. When I was getting dinner ready, we practiced counting, and she could do to 50 -- she's never gotten that high before, but she can do this stuff, and I'm not nurturing it, expanding on it. 

My mom once told me that she always felt like someday there'd be time to devote all of her attention to my sister, the second child, but in reality it was just too hard to do it, with me, the older, and her job, and running the house as a single mom, etc. And I feel like that, only switch the order of the kids. Like someday I'll be able to focus on Berit again, and do fun things, and take her places, but right now Marta needs me for survival. I have to tell you that I h-a-t-e this. In fact, I'm thinking that paying a babysitter to watch Marta while I play with Berit is sounding waaay better than paying said sitter to watch both girls while I work on that stack of freelance copy.

And Berit seems like the child who will hold this against me, out of the two. Jeez, in writing it all out it seems pretty obvious -- just drop everything to be with her. 

Tomorrow my mom and sister are coming to stay for Halloween, and Trevor is leaving on Saturday to spend a long weekend in Chicago rooting on the Bears. My mom wants to take Berit home with her until Monday, which will be wonderful in many ways -- but I so want her to take Marta instead! I'm insanely jealous that she gets uninterrupted time -- DAYS -- with Berit. That Trevor gets to go do all the fun things with her while I hold/feed/sleep with Marta. That T's mom and dad get to take B on their day-to-day errands and take the time to look at everything she likes. And to be very honest about my craziness, I get terrified whenever she leaves that something awful will happen -- car accident, kidnapping, etc. -- and it will be the last time I see her, and I'll regret that I wasn't there, and that I didn't spend more time with her like they were doing.

Gripe. Moan. Whine. I know, I write about this all the time. I don't even know how to end this! I do know that I'm going upstairs, now that she's out of the tub, and I'm going to read with her tonight. Trevor can have his turn another time.

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