After a jam-packed week and a serious "run-around" errand day, our Friday night was very slow-paced and peaceful around here. A rare and treasured moment was in the making.
The older two boys were off at Homecoming festivities at the high school. The middle two were snuggled up (separately, of course!) on the living room couch with blankets and pillows, watching a two-hour special of Extreme Home Makeover with The Boss. I was wrapped up in my blanket, steeping in a good book in the family room. And Li'l E was bouncing between the two rooms, checking to make sure I was still 'dere" when she tired of sitting still on the other couch.
The last time she peeked into the family room, I beckoned her over and pulled her onto my lap. I had turned the tv on by then, catching myself up on my dvr'd shows. As she lay down on my chest, I started playing with her hair and rubbing her back. In less than 10 minutes, her breathing had slowed and her body was going limp. The Boss caught the sweet moment for me on camera.
It's rare that she slows down enough to let me snuggle her this long. Let alone long enough to fall asleep. Even her bedtime routine has become so "grown up." She refuses help with her jammies, she pulls down her own covers. She arranges all her little buddies just.so. all by herself. I am not allowed to help. She climbs into her bed and says, "No sank you" oh, so politely! when I ask her to sit and rock in the chair with me first. She is so independent. So determined to be "a big girl" just like her big sister, that she rarely allows for this kind of "babying," even when I know she may need it. And lately, it really feels like she has desperately needed it.
Babysitting for Little Gal and Little Guy has been good for her, on many levels. She has a built-in playmate with Little Gal almost every day. She gets to exercise all her little mommy skills and dote on Little Guy, who just laps it all up. She's learning to share, to compromise, to play cooperatively, to negotiate, and more. But, as with all good learning experiences, there have been some difficult moments for her little heart along the way.
She is still not sure about sharing Mommy. Even when she knows that they are going home at the end of the day, even when she knows that Fridays are her "mommy daughter dates." Even though she knows that she belongs here and they are just visiting. Knowing it and feeling it are two different things. When they are here, she tends to be more sensitive, less tolerant, and even sometimes a bit passive aggressive in her resistance to my "character training." This week was especially hard, as Little Gal and Little Guy had been away with family for almost two weeks. I think Li'l E was pretty convinced that she had me all to herself again.
Unfortunately, I totally neglected to think about the return to our "normal schedule" from her perspective. I was looking at their family trip as "time off" to get some projects done (pics coming on the boys' room re-do soon, I promise!). I was looking at their return as my return to routine. I forgot how difficult adjustments are for four-year olds. And in the forgetting, I spent much of this past week frustrated at the intense referee'ing that I had to do. Irritated at the immovable nature Li'l E was exhibiting over some of the negotiations that I tried to lead the two girls through. There were more tears than normal. More time-outs than normal. More snapping (mine) and whining (hers) than normal. I realized about half-way through Thursday morning (yeah, I'm slow on the uptake like that! Sigh.) what was really going on. And spent the rest of the day dealing with Li'l E and Little Gal in light of that revelation (uh, duh, finally!).
So, sitting on the couch, snuggled in my arms and utterly at rest, I soaked it in. And I lavished it back on her. while she slept. Because even though she thinks she is a very big girl, even though she thinks she doesn't need it, we both need those rare and treasured moments.