I'm sitting in our living room, watching Amish: Out of Order. My pregnancy accessories, cankles, are propped up and a ceiling fan stirs the air, just enough. The baby in my belly, whom we've taken to calling Bean, squiggles and squirms from time to time. In the kitchen Cabbage is doing the dishes (even though he also cooked dinner) and a few feet away Beep has barely gone to sleep in her crib. Just a few minutes ago we saw Tabor and one of her babies outside the window, and I told Beep about how a mama deer licks her babies to clean them. She thought about that, then nodded, smiled, and started licking me and we both giggled.
Tonight, and the past few days, parenting Beep has been difficult. Her moods swing wildly and she is insistent on pretty much everything... anything... whatever strikes her fancy... She will be denied nothing, and any attempt to control her impulses or budding independence leads to tears and heartbreak.
I was gone four days last week- the longest we've ever been apart- and although she did fine while I was gone, this is the fallout. She needs me, and wants to be carried and coddled. She sometimes refuses to eat unless in my lap and will stop at nothing to have my full attention.
It's been a delicate balance to pick our battles with her. Tonight she railed at her high chair and sobbed that she couldn't sit with me to eat. I've indulged her in that impulse a couple of times recently, but I usually end up wearing half her dinner and I just wasn't up to it tonight. Beep wasn't taking no for an answer and a fit ensued... Ultimately she was placed in time out (one of her few time outs ever) and invited back to the table two minutes later. Then she melted down again so we repeated everything. Cabbage and I sat in silence, listening to her shudders and sniffles, eating our salad and miserable that our beloved baby was struggling.
Back to the table and she sat well, did not eat, and tried her best to hold it together. It was enough. Cabbage finished and offered to pick her up. "No!" she told him, and laid her head against the side of her high chair. I finished a couple of minutes later and gathered her to my shoulder. She breathed, shuddered, her mood lightened, and happiness dawned on her again. Eventually she started eating, sitting on my lap and chattering.
"Do you think it matters that she still ultimately is sitting on my lap to eat?" I asked Cabbage.
"Nah," he said. "Hold what you've got. She sat quietly and waited for us to eat. She did what we asked."
So I kissed her, and snuggled her, and let her eat the few bird bites she wanted.
Then we ventured outside, Beep attached to my hip, where we hosed the day's sweat off the horses and petted Tabor. I talked to her about where and how Tabor feeds milk to her babies and I rubbed my tight, swollen belly and found myself wondering how Beep will adjust to our new baby in a few months.
Finally, I carried my baby inside to get her ready for bed. Washed dirty little hands and feet, put on her beloved jammies, brushed pearly tiny teeth, read two books and pointed at the little mouse on each page.
That was when Tabor made her appearance outside our window. Having my baby giggle and try to lick me clean more than made up for the drama and misery of the tears earlier. One thing's certain: she loves me like a deer.