Friday, February 17, 2006

My metaphorical houses

Nothing has gone as planned.

The child was home sick a couple days, the physical house is only slightly (but somehow, magically!) more ordered, the work house entirely neglected, the house of love is cold. All my metaphorical houses are toppling. And my blog house feels so empty.

One sentence — "A small child kept me circumscribed." (Doris Lessing, in "Now You See Her, Now You Don't," Time Bites). One sentence, in an essay on Muriel Spark, not meaning anything but to explain a difference in their social circles. One sentence bursts a dam, and I dissolve in tears. I feel circumscribed.

The horrid child. (The first sick day was awful, starting in a sleep-deprived state. It got better, easier. I'd like to think it's just a matter of finding the rhythm, adjusting to it. But I spent hours feeling incompetent. How do other mothers do it? I have it relatively easy — this child spends weekdays in daycare — but this week it feels very hard.)

(Yes, having a tough time of things this week. Part domestically overwhelmed. Part parenting-skill-challenged. Part revisiting emotions, previously thought resolved, in reading Literary Mama. Part PMS. Part professionally unsatisfied. Part where am I and how did I get here.)

Serious questions
How do you keep a small child in bed who doesn't want to stay there? How many stories should I reasonably be expected to read? How many songs should I sing? How many times should I sing the same song over again? Do I really have to stay with her till she falls asleep (as she's requested a few times, and as I've acceded) (She says she's not afraid, she just wants me there. Me. Not Papa. There's a nightlight on and the door stays ajar — should I not do that?). Must I threaten her? Close the door on her? Is there a way to do it without tears (hers or mine)? Is bedtime the province of one parent or is it shared or in turns? Is this just a phase (no, I don't think it's related to her feeling under the weather this week)? How long does this phase last? Should I read parenting manuals?

Moments of joy
Seeing Elmo on television, Helena rushes to find her Elmo and sits him down to watch.

Perusing Where Is the Green Sheep? with Helena, anticipating the English text in her bilingual head she recites: "Here is la lune sheep."

The grin on the face of the T-shirted twenty-something driving a massive and noisy snowplow through narrow Plateau streets yesterday. Like Christmas! We should all love our jobs so much.

"There is water at the bottom of the ocean."
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