Put a Bib on It

An Absolute of Motherhood

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Motherhood is humbling. And that's okay.My husband comes into the bedroom after tucking Miss E in for the second time tonight, his expression fretful. She’d been crying despite being given one last story, one last song, one last drink of water, one last gentle back scratching. I’d lost my temper and scooped her up from where she threatened to screech Little Sister awake and put her none-too-gently back to bed.

“What did she say to you?”

I can tell by the look on his face she said something, or was especially sad or adorable. It was the My-Heart-is-So-Full-Because-I’m-a-Dad look he was giving me.

“She said, ‘Mommy put me back in bed and it scared me.’”

And my own heart sank. Less than an hour ago I’d been crying in the car over the big girl who’d been the baby who’d made me a mother, and then I’d gone and been cross with her for being understandably wound up after getting to bed too late and in a strange place. We’re staying with family while we’re between houses – ours is sold and we’re looking for a new home – and after more than a week she is still asking to go home to “my house.”

I was up the stairs with only a little consideration for how foolish it might be to wake her after he’d settled her, but she was lying in bed with her eyes open, the blankets pulled up to her nose.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t kind,” I whispered, kissing her forehead, her hair, her cheek. “Mama loves you so much. I’m sorry. I love you. I’m sorry.”

Maybe I’m a softie. Maybe I’m over-thinking it. Maybe I’m permissive. But the idea of her going to bed with fear of me in her heart was too much.

Brushing her sticky bangs away from her forehead, I kissed her again.

“I love you. Do you love me?”

She didn’t speak but she shook her head yes and burrowed into her blankets, ready, at last, for sleep.

All I ever want her to feel in the quiet dark is my boundless love for her. If that means humbling myself before an irrational two-year-old every now and then, I’ll do it.


Author: Jillian Kuhlmann

Mama. Nerd. Writer.

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