I was finally able to sleep on April 7th after I brought Annabel into bed to snuggle. I needed to rest my hand on her chest while it rose and fell, and I was lulled by the sound of her rhythmic breathing. In the morning when she woke up (over an hour later than usual!) she said, “Mama! I’m in your bed! How did I get here? Magic?” And that was pretty much the last adorable thing she said or did for the entirety of the day.
Annabel doesn’t understand April 7th or its significance to our family. She will, someday. In years past, Mike and I were as glum as we needed to be, but now that Annie is three she notices our moods. And while she’s seen us upset before (hell, I’m pregnant, daily crying is practically a requirement) and has reacted with compassion, she also reacts with questions. Most of the time, I answer these questions (it’s always fun to explain pregnancy hormones to a kid. “Mama’s crying because that commercial was just so sad.”), on the seventh Mike and I just didn’t have the energy.
I have this semi-vision for the future that April 7th will become a day where Madeline’s siblings do something fun in her honor. I honestly have no idea if this is something Mike and I will ever be able to do; Maddie’s birthday seems like a more fitting day for fun (especially since it’s a holiday so the kids will always be out of school). But we decided to give it a go on this April 7th. I just wanted to have a good day with Annabel. Play in the backyard, maybe go to the park, and have a nice dinner.
And she was just the worst.
I don’t know. Maybe she could sense that, try as we might, our hearts and minds were preoccupied. Maybe I should have left her in her own bed overnight. Maybe she was just being a three-year-old, with all the dizzying highs and hide-in-your-bedroom lows that come with being that age. On any other day I would have instituted epic time-outs, changed my plans, and gone about my day. But on this day, I kept trying even though I knew it would just end in disaster. I kept hoping that she’d snap out of her toddler funk because I needed my daughter. I also desperately needed to get out of the house and…it unsurprisingly didn’t end well.
On the one hand, she stressed me out so much that the awful day flew by. But on the other hand, I ended the day crying outside her bedroom door, feeling like a failure of a parent with one daughter who was unhappy and one daughter who was dead. Mom of the year.
When she woke up yesterday morning, she said, “Mama, Daddy! Today is going to be a good day!” As Mike said, she just reset overnight. Meanwhile, Mike and I were worn-out shells, and I had a hard time not holding a grudge. Against my three-year-old. Which is obviously so stupid and yet I was just so…I don’t know…disappointed. Mostly in myself, I think, for expecting my toddler to just magically understand we needed her to not have a bad day on the one day that was already bad.
Yesterday she told me she wanted to draw a heart in the sky because “I love you and daddy so much.” I know that I rely too heavily on Annabel…she saved me in her pregnancy and birth but I have to stop using her as a life-preserver. She’s just a kid who was born into a heavy situation. I hope that one day she looks back and understands all of this, and how precious she is to me. I would draw a thousand hearts in the sky for her.