"I not love you!"
Sigh. I got home from work around 6:30, and this is what Lauren greeted me with. So, it was going to be that kind of night? I was so tired. I worked over 40 hours this week and had a good 45 minute commute home due to traffic and road closures. I just wanted somebody to be nice to me! I was not prepared for that kind of night.
It really wasn't though. I told her that we have to be nice to our family because our family loves us. I was then on the phone with my sister about 20 minutes later, and Lauren asked who it was. I told her and she said, "I like her! I be nice!"
She wanted new pants because there was a tiny hole in the knee of her leggings. As we were changing, I asked her if she fell down at school (she did, she fell during PT and bumped her head, nothing serious). She told me, "Nope! Henry fall down at school. He not hurt his back neck, he hurt his front neck! (pointing to her own throat). He cry! No blood." It took me a good 5 minutes to understand she was saying Henry, so she was mad about that. I also have no idea if that's even true, also how he would fall and hurt his "front neck" I have no clue. But she was very animated telling me about it!
Then she told me, "I eat snack after school. I get ketchup everywhere! Dad be mad for me." And lo and behold, she really did have a full plate of ketchup at the kitchen table. She is getting so good at re-telling events!
We sat down for dinner and she told me she was cold, which actually means she wants me to get a blanket and wrap it around her like a poncho. Then she told me "I can't use my hands! You hafta feed me!" What's a gal to do? I fed her a couple bites of tortilla chips dipped in ketchup...to my little girl wrapped like burrito in my fancy decorative blanket that I didn't want the kids using, smiling up at me like I just hung the moon.
She then told me, "Mommy, I tired." So we put on her Christmas jammies and talked about what she wants to ask for from Santa. She wants a baby doll and a batman! She gave me endless hugs and kisses. She gave her dad enough kisses to be obnoxious. She hugged her brother before heading into her room.
We had a little tea party before bed with me, her, her stuffed lamb, her stuffed Max (from Secret Life of Pets), and her garage-sale-find life size Barbie. Today ended up being a really good day. We have days where she seems so distant, almost like her true personality is locked way. And then we have days like today, when she's just so with us! She was so animated, she was signing dancing, she was teasing her uncle, and engaging us in conversation. She told us stories about her friends at school. I live for these days.
As I rocked with her before bed I realized something. I am a good mom. Even on the days it's hard. The days that I just can't wait for bedtime. Even though I mess up every single day and end up inadvertently reinforcing her bad behavior by just giving in. Even the days she goes to be mad at me for not giving in.
It's no secret that Lauren is not an easy kid. She is very busy. She wakes up full speed and stays there until she tells us she's ready for bed, luckily she likes to go to sleep early. Some days are emotionally challenging, physically challenging, and make me feel like I'm failing everyone I'm responsible for. But on those days, I need to remember that I am a good mom. I love her more than life itself. Lauren is loved, and she knows it. Even when she doesn't feel like she loves me, whether that's because something frustrated her before I got home or because she had to poop or because the planets didn't align, I really do believe that she knows I love her enough for both of us.
If there is one thing in this life I know how to do, it's how to be her mom. That doesn't feel good every day and in all honesty, I don't like it every day. Sometimes my heart and my soul feel crushed by the weight of my failure and I wonder why God thought I was capable of being Lauren's mom. Those are the days I need to remind myself that she never feels that weight. She doesn't feel like a failure at all, she doesn't wonder why I'm her mom. She just knows I'm here, she knows that I love her, and she knows I'll be there that day, and the next, and the next. "I not love you" to Lauren means, "I'm frustrated and I don't know how to tell you" or maybe it means "my belly hurts and I don't know why" or maybe it means "I woke up crabby and I'm taking it out on you". It might even mean, "I'd rather have dad right now". But the hugs I get at bedtime, the smiles I get for giving her a new cup of water, the way she rubs my cheek and tells me I'm adorable (she really does this, it's ridiculously cute), those are the ways she tells me she loves me, even on the days she can't say it with words.