“Mommy?” the Pirate questioned sweetly from the darkness of her room as I tip-toed passed the door.
“Yes, Sweetie?” I replied, stopping a step short of my room.
“Can you tuck me in?”
“I tucked you in already. It’s time for you go back to bed, okay?”
“But I need a kiss and a hug, Mommy.”
“I gave you a kiss and a hug already, Baby. It’s time for bed.” I turned around to head to my room. Little hands clasped around my legs.
“But Mommy. I need another kiss and hug.” I tried to hide my smile as I bent down to kiss the top of her sweaty head. “A hug, too, Mommy, okay?”
“Okay, Baby. A nice, big hug. Then off to bed.” I knelt down on the hardwood floors and opened my arms to welcome her hug. She slammed her body hard into mine, and I had to grab the wall to stop myself from landing awkwardly on the floor. Regaining my balance, and after a series of her apologies, I squeezed her tightly in my arms. I couldn’t resist planting a few more kisses on her forehead before I turned her body around and encouraged her to go to bed.
I walked into my room and sat on the bed when another “Mommy?” floated on the air.
“Yes, Sweetie?” Her little feet were scampering toward my room.
“Can I lay down with you?”
“No, you have to sleep in your bed.”
She stood in front of me with sad eyes and pouting lips.
“What’s wrong?” I questioned.
“You don’t like me.” I know manipulation when I see and hear it, but the working-mommy guilt has really been playing on my psyche the last week or so, especially because her behavior both at home and away from home has been getting more and more aggressive.
“First of all, I love you very much.”
“I love y0u, too, Mommy.”
“And I like you tremendously.”
“I like you amendoussy, too, Mommy.”
“And don’t you ever think that because I say “no” that that means that I don’t like or love you. You and your sister are my favorite two little girls on Earth. That means that I like you a lot, okay?”
“What’s the matter with you, tonight? Do you just need some attention?”
“Okay, here. Take this pillow and lay right there for a few minutes. Once a few minutes are up, you have to go to bed, okay?” She smiled and hopped into the bed, laying at the foot on a big pillow. She wiggled around for a few seconds, trying to get comfortable, then realized that my body was close and available as extra padding. Her little feet rested on top of my right thigh.
“Whatcha’ doing, Mommy?”
“I’m working,” I replied as I responded to a couple emails from work.
“Can you rub my feet a little bit?” I smiled at such a grownup request from such a little girl. I pushed my computer to the side and rubbed her right foot. She squirmed and giggled.
“What’s wrong with you, Silly Rabbit?”
I started to massage her feet in my hands when she said, “Can you squeeze a little bit harder. Just a little bit, okay?” I stared at her in amazement. What could she have been doing today that warrants of specific foot massage from her mother? I’ve been at work longer than she’s been awake! And she actually took a nap. I had to listen to hardcore rap music just to stay away on the ride home. But I squeezed a little bit harder because she told me that she needed some attention, and I didn’t want the playground incident from last week to repeat itself (wearing an anti-bullying shirt, she kicked her sister down the sliding board just to make me respond in some way to her instead of replying to a text about work). She propped her hands behind her head and closed her eyes to pretend sleep.
“Okay, Sweetie. Time is up. You have to go to bed.”
“No, Mommy!” She protested.
“Okay, well now it’s time for you to rub Mommy’s feet.”
“I gotta go to bed!” She responded hopping down from my bed and running to her room. “Good night, Mommy.”
“Hey, I need some attention now?”
“No, Mommy. It’s time for bed, okay?”
“Okay, Sweetie,” I said, smiling to myself. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Mommy, but we gotta go to bed!”