Nothing too unusual in the parenting of an almost one year old. Emptying of drawers and cupboards. Refusal to nap. Foreign objects in the mouth. Long waits for a glimpse of the garbage and mail trucks. A stuffy nose that led to a cough, that started sounding croup-y by about 3 pm.
We had our cute moments, too. Like when Andrew leaned his face over the dog bowl and started lapping up the water with his tongue. Oh my gosh. After that, I started filming some of his antics on my phone: wiggling his hands in the water, dipping his foot in, then dumping the bowl on himself. Then heading over to a drawer in the laundry room and throwing the cleaning rags onto the floor, one by one, like it was his job.
I guess, in a sense, it is.
Exploration is what keeps this little guy active and learning, and I'm along for the ride to try to observe, protect, and sometimes redirect.
I showed Margaret the video when she got home. She noticed another video, with a blank screen.
Turns out, I'd left the camera recording by accident.
"It's like a nanny cam!" she exclaimed with excitement. "Now we can see if you are an abusive mother!" I kind of think she would have clued in on any abusive behaviors in my 15 years of mothering her. Still, I wondered what the audio recording "caught" of my interactions with Andrew. After all, it was hour 9 of a very long day, and the baby has been keeping us up at night for the past several weeks. My body ached from the lifting and wrangling, and I hadn't even managed to get dressed until 2:30 pm.
The audio is of my kissing away Andrew's tears as I change his 6th poopy diaper of the day. In a sing-song voice, I encourage him that I'm almost finished. I sound loving, even though my enthusiasm for yet another poop may come across as a bit forced.
I'm not sharing this to proclaim myself as world's most patient mother. Hardly. The audio could just as easily have captured the exasperation I felt about any number of things: the state of the house, his refusal to nap even though he was exhausted, the fact that I wanted to write so badly but it seemed impossible.
This incident made me wonder what different aspects of my life would sound like if they were recorded.
What about the curt one or two word exchanges between my husband and me when we've made it through the trenches of raising little ones, weathered the death of our son, but now find ourselves, again, sleep-deprived and stretched thin? Would the brittleness and lack of generosity come through in our voices? Probably.
What about the way I shore myself up to warmly (yet NOT TOO enthusiastically) greet my teenager, only to be met (again) with either silence or disapproval? Would the audio pick up my sigh or the immature "Ugh!" I let out as I turn out of her doorway, trying to remind myself, "It's not about me. It's not about me"?
Then there's the audio loop in my head. "You're almost 50 years old. Why didn't you maintain a career? Why don't you exercise? Are you ever going to write another book?"
Exasperation is okay. I'm human. You're human. So are Tim and Margaret. Even little Andrew had a heap of frustrations to deal with yesterday. Sometimes the recordings (on our phones or in our heads) will be more positive than others.
He and I ended hour 12.5 of the day (but who was counting?) with a warm bath, long-john pajamas, and my ruffling his hair, which is looking a little bit like a mullet. He smelled so good. I didn't know when I put him down whether he'd be waking us up at 12, 3, or 5 in the morning, but I was glad we'd made it through another day. Not because I'm trying to wish his childhood away, the way I think I did with the older two, but because that's what life is, a collection of days.
Some are beautiful, some are exasperating, and most are a combination of both.