We were at a birthday party on Saturday night, and it was crowded. Very crowded, like the clubs I used to get dolled up for back in my early twenties, except instead of anonymous strangers and a pulsing dance beat, it was filled with a large Italian family we know, all there to celebrate a 2-year-olds birthday.
E & L pretty much disappeared the moment we went into the small Cape Cod house. While my husband and I navigated the small talk and stuffed our faces, they were happy to play with the different toys of someone else’s kids. The last hour or so, though, L started having breakdown after breakdown. “I WANT MAAA” was said on repeat throughout the latter half of the party. Tears and arms outreached towards me, she caused a scene. This caused tension, as I had little baby H in my arms or wrapped against me the entire night. I’d pick her up, soothe her the best I could, and once she calmed down, send her on her way, only for her to return about five minutes later.
All the party attendees kept looking at me with surprised raised eyebrows, “Wow. She’s a handful” seemed like the best comment to make by multiple people there.
I wasn’t offended, really. L is a handful, at times. A squirmy, bouncing, loud, independent, willful, strong-minded and stubborn little girl. But, I could see why she was upset. She didn’t know anyone there apart from my husband and I and the place was overcrowded and overheated. Just because she can be remarkably self-reliant and independent (especially for a 22-month-old) doesn’t mean she’s always going to want to be that way.
And furthermore, why is a little girl wanting her mom a bad thing? Like, ever?
One aspect of parenting young kids I always try to keep in mind, especially in my down moments, is how my role as “mom” completely encompasses my kid’s lives. Or, better yet, I try to remember I am their whole world. I will never again be so admired, so loved, so looked up to, by any other being as my kids. And this is a fleeting thing. My first-grader adores his teacher just as much as me. They will eventually grow bigger, and their peer’s opinions will outweigh anything I have to say to them.
As a grown woman, the only people who will ever cry simply because I’ve left the room are my children. I can sing as loud as I want to around them, and rather than judge my off-key squalling, they dance and laugh. I spend the majority of my time in nursing tank tops and yoga pants with unwashed hair, glasses, and zero makeup, but when my newborn looks at me and smiles, I feel beautiful. Just seeing me lights his world up. This admiration, this power I have over my kids is unique, and as I said before, doesn’t last forever.
So, I’m not going to let my toddler’s fit for me at a party I didn’t even care much about in the first place bring me down, or embarrass me. I’m glad she loves me enough to fight and cry for me. And I’m going to continue to sing out loud, dance like a dork, goof around all day long as much as I can. One day, very soon, I will be just “Mom”, and the fan club I have will lose much of their fervor and admiration. I will revel in being Mommy as much as I can.