The sleepy bedroom eyes. Chocolate-brown saucers. The slow blink with black fluttering eyelashes. They eat me up as I melt into my mothering duties, trying to gently roust my little cupcake out of her toasty warm bed, blankie by her side.
Sleep allows her brain a much needed break from the anxiety that starts to creep in as she wakes and starts to think. The seven-year-old synapses start firing and bring the tsuris back.
The little girl sweetness evaporates and the constant, low level anger and worry greets another day.
Everything becomes an issue. The order of the morning — potty first or breakfast? Blue jeans or skorts? Fancy or tomboy? I know that the fights she tries to start over unimportant choices are just a cover for the larger issue — control and the fact that she can’t control the fears that swim in her head. So she’ll try to control anything else she can.
I know the routine, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I still get frustrated each morning, hoping that this will be the day that she lets go of the fear and trusts that I’m going to be the mommy who doesn’t leave her. Sometimes, I do feel like the “bad” mother, because even though I understand what’s going on, and have over-analyzed the larger issues, I can’t help my own frustrations. Would it kill her to believe me just one time?
But she can’t help herself. If she loves me too much, she can’t stand leaving me, even for the few hours of the school day. Even though I whisper to her over and over that I will be right here.
She pushes — pushes me away, pushes the buttons to try to make me angry, so she will feel better about saying goodbye for the day. She leaves for school with a mommy who’s a little annoyed.
And for her, that’s easier than leaving the mom who cherishes her more than anyone else on the planet and tells her so more times during her waking hours than I can count. She needs the love so badly that she can’t handle the thought of walking away from it. So she finds a way, each morning, each day, to pretend the love isn’t there.
I try to fill her up, but she’s a pot with a slow leak. I put the love in and it stays there for a bit, but too soon it trickles out, leaving the vessel empty.
I know I’ll have to start again when I pick her up from school. And again tomorrow morning. And again. And again.
And I pray that one day I’ll find a way to stop the leak, that her reservoir will overflow, and that she’ll feel it.