Yes, my daughter is two, that's excuse number one. I can also blame her newfound fowl mood on the clock change, a recent visit from my "in-laws," the fact that she doesn't understand why some nights she sees her siblings, some nights she doesn't. Eliza's routine is disrupted frequently. She's usually so adaptable but lately, that's not the case. As much as she likes her siblings, C's parents, C's brother and girlfriend, seeing them all constantly over the course of one weekend overwhelmed her. Throw in the sudden fixation on wearing nothing but "pretty dress" and I've got a red-faced, shrieking, writhing little ball of fire.
Where's my happy little girl? I hate seeing my daughter in such despair. I hauled her to the pediatrician last week because I was concerned something was physically wrong. The doctor looked her over pretty thoroughly and didn't see anything. No facial swelling (a teething indicator), no ear redness, no throat discomfort, nothing.
Tonight's outburst started when I asked C to bathe her. Eliza didn't want to take off her pretty dress. That battle lost, she settled in the tub and it sounded like she had a good time with her father and her brother. After more than a half-hour of bath time fun, I poked my head in to tell C it was 8pm and Eliza still needed to brush her teeth. Once Eliza saw me, her laughter turned into tears. She rushed out of the tub, followed me into her bedroom and threw herself at me. She said, "I want my towel on me" and "rock" repeatedly. I wrapped the towel around her and sat in the rocking chair.
C left to take Harry home and I was stuck with a naked, sobbing toddler. It was time for bed, I had a lot of cooking to do in preparation for my absence over the next three days (I'm working on a movie) and I needed her to go to bed. "I want to sit on the potty!" Eliza howled as I tried wrangling her into a diaper. "I want my towel on me" she said as I tried to sit her on the potty. Frustrated, I left her crying in her room for a few minutes and contemplated easy forms of suicide. Pills, stick my head in the oven, there must be something quick and painless. Eliza responded by peeing on the floor.
I cleaned the floor and wiped down her legs. Eliza held a hand over her crotch and continued to ask for the potty. Thinking perhaps she had more pee to unleash, I again carried her in her towel to the bathroom. She refused to sit on the potty and asked me to shut the door. She slammed the toilet lid down and said "rock" and then it hit me. On nights when I'm home alone with Eliza, after I lift her out of the tub, I wrap her in her towel, sit down on the toilet lid and rock her gently on my lap. We play games and cuddle and generally enjoy a calming moment before it's time to get her ready for bed. This is what she'd been asking for; a little one-on-one time with Mama.
I've been so busy lately, some of these moments have passed us by. Perhaps my increasing busyness is to blame for her change in disposition. I'm only going to get busier. At two, I am the only constant in Eliza's life. C's around, but he comes and goes without any regularity. Some weeks, Eliza sees her siblings two or three nights, and other weeks, she doesn't see them at all. C's parents blow into town and suddenly it's a party with C's brother and girlfriend rounding out the guest list. The only person, the only stability Eliza can count on is me and the babysitter who comes faithfully two days a week.
I will work for the next three days with a heavy heart. I will leave tomorrow before Eliza wakes up and I probably won't be home before her bedtime. I know she'll enjoy the extra time with her father, her siblings and her babysitter but she's never gone three days without seeing me.
I hope she knows that I'll be back.