|Tuesdays at Two Writing Teachers!|
"Actually, she probably wants him! She's been really attached to him lately since she only sees him for a short time each evening."
"They always want Mommy when they're sick, though!" More commiserating mom looks across the conference room. This whole gender role thing is super out of control! Even though Husband doesn't have to write sub plans and has more time off than I do, and even though I absolutely thrive on putting my whole self into making a difference every day while I'm at school, my colleagues have almost managed to guilt me into feeling bad that I'm not the one staying home today. I feel as if I've broken some sort of unwritten rule that Mom has to be the one to stay home with the sick kid. It's just like when we'd go out after first having her, and everyone would act astonished that Husband was acting like an equal partner in taking care of her. Those first few weeks, we couldn't help but be astonished at the frequency of comments like, "Ooh, he changes diapers?!"
"I didn't want to wake her up when I left, but I'm pretty sure she'll be really excited to spend the whole day with Daddy!" I try not to roll my eyes, because I know my colleagues mean well and are trying to imply that we share some sort of special womanly connection as moms. Forever the fiercely independent tomboy, I don't quite feel it, but I appreciate that they're trying to connect with me.
At the end of the school day, Husband texts me to say that Sweetie is still feeling so bad that they're going to the doctor, so I hurriedly pack up and jump into the car to meet them. The check-in secretary waves me through the waiting room door and a sweet young nurse directs me to an exam room. "She's just the cutest," she gushes, "it's so sad that she's sick!" As I shove the door open, I see Husband hushing me with an urgent finger over his mouth. Little Sweetie is curled up on his chest, sound asleep, sighing huge, heavy breaths.
When my childhood doctor finally comes in, she stirs unhappily, emitting pathetic squeaks and whimpers. "Mommy's here, Sweetie! Look, Mommy left work early to see you!" She stares at me with vacant eyes and starts to cry as the doctor begins trying to look in her ears. "Do you want to come see Mommy?" I offer, and she reaches out for me, but I only hold her for a minute before she leans back toward Husband, shaking and crying harder. "Daddy!" "I think she remembers this place and thinks she has to get shots," he shrugs.
Giving her a final snuggle, I pass her back to him, and she burrows back against him while I settle for patting her arm. The doctor decides it must be a virus, advises us to keep giving her fluids and Tylenol, and sends us back home without any real solution.
"Do you want to ride in Mommy's car or Daddy's?" I ask as we gather our bags and coats. "Mommy!" she mumbles sweetly. "Ok, you can listen to your mirror in Mommy's car!" We walk out, and check again as we approach the cars, since she usually doesn't like when we have to leave somewhere in separate cars. "Do you want to ride with Mommy or Daddy?"
"Mommy!" I open the car door, pull my seat forward, throw my bag on the floor, and reach for her, but she clenches her legs tight against Husband and digs her tiny fists into his shoulders. We glance at each other. "Do you want to ride with Mommy or Daddy?"
"Daddy!" I kiss her and wave bye-bye, and when we meet back at home, she wants to sit all evening on Daddy's lap, while Daddy reads her books and Daddy holds her water bottle. ("Do you want to sit on Mommy's lap?" "Daddy!") And Daddy does, even though he's exhausted from an entire day of holding her and trying to make her feel better.
And after she refuses every dinner choice we offer and then throws up, she nuzzles deeper into his shoulder and mutters, "Hold you. Holding."
"Daddy will hold you!" he whispers in her ear. With teary eyes and shaking shoulders, he hugs her tighter and carries her up to bed. He loves her THAT much! So much that her pain hurts him!
At 20 months old, she doesn't have any ideas about who's supposed to take care of her. She knows we both love her, and she knows that time with Daddy is extra special.
I'm awestruck by how much I love them both.