“Mommy do you like this song?” My 4 year old daughter pulls me through the portal of my mind with her sweet sing-songy question. Anxious already, I had been promulgating strategies for dealing with a long list of problems the day was sure to fire at me. Staring up at me expectantly, my daughter waits. Her bubbly smile and chocolatey eyes hold mine, “Yes, angel-bear, I love your song!” I’m 4 feet away from her, separated by the ottoman and our four-legged polar bear, Taffy. The distance between us, may as well be a great chasm. Scared of being late, suddenly, I freeze up, wondering if I’ve forgotten something already, worried I’m not doing enough to get out the door on time, I scramble, “Honey, where are your shoes? We’ve got to hurry. It’s time to do your hair, brush your teeth, and breakfast first” I pause, and wag a finger at her for emphasis.
“No, angel-bear, I don’t have time to listen to your song, but you can sing it for me in the car, okay?” Taffy wags after me, dutifully hanging on my every word. It’s nice to be listened to. Before I know it, I’m off to the bedroom to make the bed. “No. Anabel, no time for that.” I say to a squealing, giggling lump, that just dove under the blankets, I was trying to straighten over the bed. I will make time for this. When Saturday comes, I’m going to grab every blanket in the house and let her dive under each parachuting sheet that comes down. She can sway, laugh, giggle and play till her hearts content. I check the time, “We need to do your hair,” I say panicked. “No!” Anabel yells with surprising force. She scrambles from the blankets, her chocolatey eyes turning a furrowed charcoal, as anger clouds over them from her eyebrows. I need a break. I sprint to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, dreading what is sure to be a game of thrones. I sip my coffee and settle on the friends approach, “Anabel?” I coax from the bedroom and entice her with Disney songs. I’m careful to keep trigger words like “hair brush” and “barrettes” from coming out of my mouth, but Anabel watches me like a hawk and sees me eyeing the rubber bands. “Noooooo!” she screams, making a mad dash for the living-room. I surrender all, reach for a headband and chase after her. Using conflict resolution, and a milk chocolate truffle in hand, we’re out the door in no time.
At the office, I greet the receptionist and head over to my desk. I stare blankly at the beige wall in front of me, and feel as though I’ve forgotten something really important. I look out the window and see the trees tossing the wind back and forth. From my mind’s eye, I glimpse my angel-bear, “Mommy, I want to give you a kiss and a hug” she pronounces, bathed in smiles and layers of taffeta as she leaps into my arms. “You try to make everybody happy, mommy,” she cups my face in her paws, “I love you”.
Hearing the knock on my door, she’s gone again. Even the trees fall still. I take in the shadowed room, where no one smiles, wishes me well, or cares. Alone with the knock, I wonder, why am I here?