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Why are the things we love the most also those which drive us the craziest? For example, an unnamed 2 1/2 year old girl? I am perplexed by the paradoxical sensation of wanting to be with her, snuggle with her, kiss her, smell her, read to her, play with her, laugh with her, teach her things, listen to her funny observations, and tickle her, while at the same time part of me is always cognizant of planning my escape route and frequently reassessing my chances of success. Usually they are slim.

This is particularly the case at bedtime. There I wrestle with the conflicting feelings of admiration of her ability to stall and keep me there in new and creative ways every night (or in the same old ways, because she knows I’m a sucker), enjoyment of spending the time with her and reveling in her presence, and frustration that I’m the world’s most ridiculous parent because it takes at least an hour to complete the bedtime ritual from the time we go upstairs to the (last) time I go out into the hall. It’s too many feelings.

Zoe is the child I always wanted. I’ve known since I was seven years old, when my sister was born, that I wanted to be a mommy. It took me a little longer than I had planned (I remember when I was 12 I decided that by the year 2000 I would be married and have a baby or at least be pregnant. Some things you can’t just make happen through hard work, it turns out.) but I am so fabulously lucky to be the mommy of this little girl. Which is why it feels like such betrayal of myself when I go a little nuts because of her. Tonight I actually said “Zoe, you are trying my patience.” Who AM I? Who SAYS that?

But then as we were sitting on her bed, our introductory position at the end so she can see Tinkerbell casting her glow in the darkness, she was musing about one of the books we had read Lazy Little Loafers, a book about a girl who is concerned that babies don’t have jobs and are sitting around too much. One line in the book speculates that babies are having three-bottle lunches even though they don’t work and they end up tipsy. Another line says something about “Someone else is paying for my Pampers.” Zoe said “it’s funny that the baby was tipsy. That’s a funny word. It’s funny that someone else is paying for my Pampers.” I asked “why is that funny?” She said, “You don’t pay for Pampers. You pay for food. That’s what you do at the grocery store.”

Earlier when we walked in the house after I strolled her home from day care, through a lot of traffic and construction, she said or did something that surprised me and I said “oh dear god.” She looked up at me and said “Are you God?” I said no. I’m not even sure what she was thinking. What does she know about God? What do I?

I love the fact that she is making up jokes, and telling stories, and has very particular taste in music. Of course when I want to listen to my own music, or I’m on the phone and can’t listen to her story or joke, or when, god forbid I need to leave her bedroom because it’s 9:30 and I’d like to have a conversation with my husband, I am not so enthusiastic. But it’s not because I’m a bad mommy, right? I love her, but I’m human.

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