Month 54

Month 54

Dear Olivia,

Have you ever heard a four year old girl play with her dolls?  If you have not, I strongly suggest you locate one this instant and lurk in the shadows so you can eavesdrop on her.  The play conversations a four year old has amongst her toys are hands down the funniest shit you will have ever heard.  Case in point, the other night I’m in your bedroom putting away laundry when I hear you out in the hall playing with your dolls.  Doll #1:  Hi!  Do you want to marry me?  Doll #2:  No!  I don’t like your vagina.

I expected myself to have a bigger reaction.  Instead, I found myself kind of agreeing with your logic.  Having a bad vagina is a valid reason for someone not marrying you.  Perhaps I should seize this moment and teach you about proper feminine hygiene.  Since four year olds tend to regurgitate every conversation they hear, my biggest question is where did you hear this specific dialogue?  A great deal of your friends are boys and this is in large part because you’re the only girl who will play superhero with them.  Are these the kinds of topics four year old boys are already discussing on the playground?  Do they even know what a vagina is?  These are the moments I feel very ill-prepared as a parent.  How does a parent appropriately tackle this situation without looking like a complete fool?  Since I don’t have a good answer, I can honestly and proudly say that I took a backseat on this one because we all know, if you have nothing good to say or in this case, if you have no input that is of value, it’s best to probably say nothing at all.  I’m fairly certain that’s the right call unless I see you paying a great deal of attention towards your doll’s vaginas, then we’ll know I missed the mark here.

I strongly encouraged your Dad to take Miles to the baseball game last Saturday afternoon because if I had to be in a room with Miles for another minute, I was going to lose my shit.  I don’t know how a child that is already difficult beyond comprehension can wake up one morning and test the theory that things can’t possibly get worse.  He is a handful and I need a break – clear and simple.  I’m sure you’re aware of the rising levels of tension in the house due to Miles’ constant tantrums and I thought it would be a good time to have some alone time with you.  I told you about the ‘girl day’ I had planned for us and you were beaming.  You were so thrilled and beyond excited that it actually made me feel really bad – had I neglected you so much since Miles was born that the thought of spending a few hours with me, was exactly the kind of attention you have been yearning for?  I think it’s safe to say that I felt like a total ass at that moment for not realizing that we don’t spend any kind of quality time together without that boy bothering us.  Is it me or do I feel a Judy Blume book coming alive right now.

Seeing how important this day was to you, I took it seriously.  I incorporated just about every girl cliche I could unearth; haircut, lunch, baking and pedicures.  You were exuberant throughout the whole afternoon, telling every passerby that you were having a girl’s day with your Mom.  You asked me repeatedly throughout the afternoon if it was just going to be us as if you just couldn’t believe that Miles was not going to be making an appearance.  It warmed my heart to know that you still want to spend time with me but it made me feel incredibly sad that perhaps I haven’t given you the complete one-on-one time you have been so desperately craving.  I guess I should have had that conversation about good and bad vaginas after all . . .

I’m sorry if you look back at your childhood and you feel like you didn’t get the attention you deserved.  As a parent of two children, nobody gives me fair warning of how difficult it will be to divvy up attention appropriately and fairly.  This is especially true when you have a sibling like Miles who has learned how to get the bulk of my attention by being a pain in the ass.  I can ignore him to a certain degree at home but I just can’t let him carry on in public.  I do what I can but even you get a little bored as we sit in a car parked out in front of the grocery store for forty-five minutes as we wait for Miles to come down off his rage.  It’s so incredibly difficult to be everything to you that you want me to be but I promise that I will try harder to show you that you are important to me and our days don’t revolve around Miles. 

You probably don’t know that every night before I go to bed and long after you have fallen asleep, I always go back in to your room to tuck you back in and I always kiss you on the forehead and tell you that I love you – it’s part of my nightly routine and I can’t fall asleep until I do this.  It doesn’t sound like a lot but I want you to know from the moment you wake me up to the final moments before I turn in at night, that I love you completely and whole-heartedly.  Parenting is hard and I have no clue what I’m doing but I want you to know that I appreciate you being patient with me while I try to figure out what the hell is going on.  You may very well resent me one day for whatever it is I overlooked that was of importance to you but I hope you will understand the difficulty and frustrations that I’m riddled with on a daily basis.  I hope you will one day understand and take pity on me when I’m old and decrepit and looking for a good retirement home.  You know you’re in charge of that, right?  Make me proud and please have mercy.




You according to my phone:


2 responses to “Month 54”

  1. She's so sweet, Jen. This gig is so hard. She might have her resentments but one day, hopefully, she'll get hired at this 24-hour thankless job with no training and realize that you did your very best. And she'll appreciate that because even if she didn't feel like it was good enough for her, she'll have the opportunity to ruin her own kids lives as payback. Hang in there, huh?? Good luck finding some more one-on-one time with your sweet girl. I should do the same…

  2. Thanks Erin. That's the hope, right? That our kids become parents so they can understand that parenting is far from being a cake walk? The hope that you don't screw them up so much that they avoid becoming parents because their upbringing was so horrible? Ugh, parenting is exhausting. Now if I can just get that damn 'Cats In the Cradle' song out of my head. . .

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