My three year old Livie has a disgusting little scrap of a blanket that she carries around with her -- thankfully less than she used to. It's name is Night-Night, and it is often mistaken as a dish towel, a dust rag, or someone's used handkerchief. Recently someone asked her what it was and she said, "Dis is my Night-Night, but my mommy calls it my Stinky Rag."
It is indeed stinky, like her big sister's attachment object a a few years ago. I wisely had multiples of these fetish properties of my girls, but they both always wanted to hold, nuzzle and suck their thumbs with whichever one was dirtiest.
Trying to get the bottom of this bizarre preference for the grossest blanket, I asked Livie a few weeks ago, "What does your blanket smell like?"
With love in her eyes, she responded, "It smells like you!"
I hope you won't think me strange when I say that I was flattered by this. I know that I don't really smell like a chewed-on scrap of fabric. But what I understood by this declaration of my daughter's is that she likes this transition object with some kind of human stink on it, and the human she most wants it to be like is me.
I'm an extremely popular person in my house right now. We've had almost three weeks of illness here, and so there is rampant neediness. And though this is a two-parent household, there is only one Dr. Mom. My husband is a gentle, present, fun and sensitive father, but Mommy he ain't. So if someone needs patting, cuddling, coddling, Benadryl, warm tea, or someone to grind their little hard head and feet into (Livie has a penchant for head butting and grabbing people with her toes), I'm the one they seek out.
Sometimes this can be enormously frustrating. I could be juggling flaming knives, talking on the phone and going to the bathroom at the same time, and my daughters would walk past their unoccupied father to ask me to get them a drink. Honestly, their constant neediness and myopic desire for Mom can drive me absolutely batty. But the last couple of weeks, I feel God pressing something into my heart: "Amanda, you are a caretaker. That is your primary job." I'm ashamed to say that I forget this, even though it is what I do all day. Care taking gets disguised by housework sometimes (which I truly loathe, more on this later this week), but even dish washing is a form of care to my kids. Sometimes I want to hurry up and meet their needs, so I can get on with what I'm doing, and then I remember, "Oh crud, meeting their needs is what I'm doing."
Two more touching anecdotes to share: This weekend Liv needed a nap and Daddy offered to put her down, but she was not having it. So I took out of his arms with a slightly sarcastic, "I know Mommy is everybody's favorite person," not really expecting Liv to pay attention. But she looked right at me with a twinkle and said, "Yeah, and Daddy goes to work every time!"
Just by function of being here for Quantity Time, I am the favorite. Which is fascinating, because Jeff is much better at Quality Time. He plays more board games, builds more Tinker Toys, and does more park play than me. He's also less cranky. But he goes to work all day, and I stay home to be Mom.
Mom is a great thing to be. I sat down on Sunday about two feet from Liv on the couch, where she was watching TV. Suddenly, she looks up and sees me, a light goes on in her eyes, and she scoots her little bottom over to me and thunks her head against my chest with a sigh. This was all as if to say, "Yeah! It's Mommy! Right here on the couch! Quick, get close to her." What other job in the world can you light up someone's face just by sitting down in a heap on your sofa? Bring it on, girls. Your smelly little mom is here. Let the Quantity time begin.