I'm tired and she's tired. And she's been weeping with frustration, her face a smudge of red cheeks and snotty trails.
I go down on my knees beside her little, chubby legs. They're curving over the edge of her green froggy potty stool and she is glaring hot blue eyes into my face. I reach for her and she swats at me and doesn't want the comfort I know she wants.
I gently take her hands and pull her up. Her tender self all frustration and sweat and vulnerability melting into me. I cup her with my arms and my words and slowly stroke those damp curls back from her cheeks.
I've got deadlines and to-do lists and no clue what to make for dinner. There is one quiet window before the boys come home and Pete has made it back early and we're hoping for a snatched ten minute nap. But she's inconsolable for reasons she can't put into 2-year-old words yet and I'm on my knees reaching for her.
I will always come, baby.
She's in my arms and slowly beginning the ritual of stroking my right arm. Her curls are warm and sweaty and that pudgy baby cheek fits just under my chin.
I will always come.
I dance with her slowly -- the rock and roll of motherhood -- and I know this is a promise I can stake my life on.
I will always come.
When you forget your lunch. When you are sheep number 5 in the Christmas play. When you take up the recorder and bleat all the way through the Easter service. When you get that bad haircut. When you think you want to be a beauty queen, when you swear off fashion altogether.
I will come.
When the mean girls make you want to shrivel inside your skin. When a teacher intimidates you. When you intimidate the teachers. When you think you can sing and try out for a musical, when you get laughed at and people point fingers at your hair and your shoes and your too bony hips.
My darling, I will come.
When that boy breaks your heart and you're stranded at a college miles away, I will come. When the internship you thought was part of your calling falls through. When a friend gets sick. When the car crashes. When you have more long distance charges than you thought possible. When you run out of gas, chocolate chip cookies and faith.
I will be there.
When you say your "I dos," when you you start your happily ever afters, when none of it quite feels like you thought it would. When you don't know how to pick a mattress, when the sofa is in the wrong place, when you regret what feels like signing your life away to someone else. When you keep on keeping on. When you remember how to say sorry. When you need a safe place to say how cliche you feel all "barefoot and pregnant" I will so be there.
When the baby won't sleep and the world's on fire with sleep exhaustion.
Sweetheart, I will come.
When your husband's out of work. When you're down to one car and have moved in with your in-laws. When your job threatens to break your heart. When toddlers make you question your sanity. When you realize that you've made the worst mistake a woman can make. When you've run out of tears and still the tears keeping coming.
I will come.
When you move and move and relocate again. When you pack boxes and dreams and hope. When your life is a world of duct tape and questions. I will still come.
And when your home is warm and your heart is full. When you're at peace. When you need someone to share the joy, to watch the kids, to admire the dimples. When you want to remember that old recipe for melktert, when you still can't pick a sofa, when you wish you'd never said yes to the dog.
When you don't know where you're going. When you're the most sure of yourself you've ever been. When you're holding onto faith with just your fingernails. When you're singing praise to the God who made you and you mean it with every tiny, beautiful, miraculous part of your DNA -
Zoe, always I will come. One hundred different ways I will come when you call.
I will rock and roll you with my love and the promise that I will help you get back on your feet. I will hold your hand. I will rejoice. I will babysit. I will pass the tissues. I will wash the dishes.
I will come.
And the day after. And after.
And then some.
This post first appeared on LisaJoBaker.com
Toddlers who constantly demand ""look at me!" are most likely to become better collaborators and learners when they're older, a study published in the journal Child Development found. Author Marie-Pierre Gosselin said that, "Toddlers whose parents have consistently responded positively to their attention-seeking expect interactions to be fulfilling. As a result, they're eager to collaborate with their parents' attempts to socialize them."
Researchers studied the behavior and brain scan images of kids while they played with others, were given rewards and prompted to share with their playmates. The findings revealed that, "even though young children understood how sharing benefited the other child, they were unable to resist the temptation to make the 'selfish' decision to keep much of the reward for themselves." But thankfully, as a child's brain matures, so will the child. "Brain scans revealed a region that matures along with children's greater ability to make less selfish decisions," the study found.
Children who snore or have sleep apnoea are more likely to be hyperactive by the age of 7. Researcher, Dr. Karen Bonuck said a toddler's "sleep problems could be harming the developing brain."
According to Ewen MacDonald of the Technical University of Denmark, adults monitor their voices so that the sound reflects what is intended. But, "2-year-olds do not monitor their auditory feedback like adults do, suggesting they are using a different strategy to control speech production," he said.
Researchers found that depriving toddlers of a daily nap led to "more anxiety, lower levels of joy and interest, and reduced problem-solving abilities." Kids in the focus group who missed naps were not able to "take full advantage of exciting and interesting experiences and to adapt to new frustrations."
Two-year-olds in a focus group "were more likely to copy an action when they saw it repeated by three other toddlers than if they saw an action repeated by just one other toddler," a study published in the journal Current Biology found.
In a recent Slate article, Nicholas Day illustrated a timeline of what scientists have learned about toddlers' memories over the last few decades. Before the 80s, it was believed that babies and young toddlers lived in the present with no memory of the past. Twenty years ago, however, a study found that 3-year-olds could recount memories of Disney World 18 months after they visited. And recently, research noted a "27-month-old child who'd seen a 'magic shrinking machine' remembered the experience some six years later."
Follow Lisa-Jo Baker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lisajobaker