My 2-year-old middle daughter, who I fondly call “Curly” for her dirty blonde ringlets, has developed some catch phrases that she flings at me like weapons in all of her terrible twos glory. Some of these are things like, “Get Me Outta Here!” or “I’m so buckled!” while we are on long car rides. But one of the others is just simply, “What About Me?”
She says “What About Me?” in normal situations and it’s completely to be expected. I’m opening the doors to the minivan and my 8-year-old “Freckles” jumps into the back seat on her own, while I clumsily carry the heavy infant car seat holding my 9-month-old “Smiley” and click it and her into place. Poor Curly is usually left standing near the sliding door just below her carseat, unable (or unwilling?) to climb up into her own carseat. She still needs me to hoist her up there and buckle her, so she needs to wait. It’s just how it is with 2 hands and 3 kids. Someone has to wait. And so the “What about me?” question usually follows.
Like I said, she means it simply enough, but for me it is a deeper, almost lonely phrase. This middle child, caught between being a baby and being a big girl is often “Too Big” for that but “Too Little” for this and the frustration is knit tightly into her furrowed brows and perfect pout. And not only is it my own “Mommy Guilt” that feels her question so heavily, but really, let’s be serious, I want to scream, “What about me?” several times a day. Or her other catch phrase, “Get Me Outta Here!” I get it, that feeling of being lost, or of someone just forgetting you. The frustration, the anger, the hurt. It’s what I feel often in the isolation of Mommyhood.
My challenge is to find ways to make this beautiful middle daughter know, without a doubt, that she is important to me and she could never be forgotten. That yes, the squeaky wheel does get the grease, but I hear her even when she’s not making a commotion or making a top-of-her-lungs, stamping-her-feet, screaming proclamation. But, also, teach her that sometimes, you do have to take care of yourself and take charge of your life. Climb up into your own seat and take your place in the world without someone lifting you up all the time. It’s a juggling act of providing support and encouraging independence, and I’m a one-mom circus, hoping one day to make sense of it all.