Thursday, July 31, 2008

Midnight regrets

It's after midnight, and I can't sleep. The day keeps spinning around in my head, as I relive a few crucial moments here and there that my left brain won't let me forget. I don't necessarily consider myself a bad parent, but there are days when I fall into bed and can't help thinking I was a bad parent today.

There was the day I put my foot down with an antsy, grabby toddler in the fancy department store and ended up carrying him out sideways to a chorus of "Mommy, no!" and "More magic stairs!" 

Then there was the day Josh asked to get out of the cart at Costco and ran as fast as he could in the opposite direction the minute his feet hit the floor, instantly disappearing among 100-foot-high aisles of dish soap and toilet paper. I frantically dashed from row to row as incredulous shoppers pointed this way and that when I asked if they had seen a little boy buzz past them. (Incidentally, if you ever need an employee to help you find or reach something at Costco, just let your toddler loose. I had three big guys in red vests corner, grab, and return him to me in less than three minutes. I realized only after they handed him back that he was wearing a T-shirt that said, "I do all my own stunts.")

And there are oh so many days when my head hits the pillow and my mind instantly starts flashing through all the moments I didn't play with Josh, all the times he tried fruitlessly to get my attention, all the times I snapped at him for doing something all three-year-olds do. Like a print queue with a paper jam that has suddenly been fixed, my memory spits out lost moment after lost moment in excruciating vibrancy. And all I can do is watch them go by, rendered helpless by the time-space continuum. I cannot fix them. I cannot go back and relive them. I can only remember them over and over again, exactly as they happened.

I try to trick myself into thinking about something else, something I'm looking forward to doing tomorrow, something cute Josh said or did, or something repetitive and boring such as the Music Together welcome song that I can't get out of my head. But my left hemisphere insists on returning to the prickliest events of the day, the ones my brain must still need to process before it will let me rest.

So alas, I get up, creep down the hall, and sneak into Josh's room. By the soft glow of the nightlight, I can see him sprawled out on his back with one arm over his head and his sheets wrapped around him like a toga. His cheeks are red and puffy, his breathing is even, and his eyelids flutter. 

I sigh as I gaze at this peaceful little soul, and small tears fill my eyes. I cannot change today. But I make myself the same promise I have made on many other late nights and will likely make a million times more: I will do better tomorrow. 

1 comment:

Sus said...

8:15pm and i'm already starting in on my day's (week's) regrets. here's what helps: smutty television. here's what sucks: fall season hasn't started yet. :)

thanks for the visit to my place. really like your writing. i'll be back!

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