Friday, January 24, 2014

Super Dad

Mark and I are a lot alike. We have chores we don’t mind doing and chores we hate doing, like taking out the recycleables that tend to pile up in the corner by the door until they topple over and create a make-shift security system for anyone who would consider wandering into our apartment unannounced. My counselor says that, as long as we’re similar in our approach to housecleaning, it doesn’t matter. So, that’s good. Let’s agree to live in a dump. Ok, it’s not that bad, and we’ve been doing much better lately keeping up with those tasks as E is getting older and demanding (a little) less time from us.

And, more importantly, when the big things come up (sicknesses, mini emergencies), we fall into our respective roles and take care of the chores we’re good at. I am the lovey-dovey caregiver, and he is the fixer-upper. Though Mark is a sweetheart and can usually fill my lovey-dovey caregiver role, I tend to be the one to coddle E when she’s sick, soothe her if she has a nightmare. I’m the one who can usually tell if her cry means that she is hurt, sad, hungry, or tired. In minutes, I can assess and apply the proper amount of patience and love to see her through any perceived trauma, like dropping a cracker on the floor.

Meanwhile, Mark washes a dish, makes her oatmeal, takes care of laundry, fixes computers, our wi-fi connection, and makes sure that we’re all set up to watch Lady and the Tramp three times in a row, if needed, on a sick day.

In an emergency, he never falters. Each time something serious comes up, he asks, “Do you need me?” and I know this really means, “Do you have no other option but for me to get you, be there, drive you home, help you take care of E, etc.?” And if I say, “Yes, I need you,” he replies with, “On my way.” No further questions. He comes to my rescue.

Unless I’m forgetting some, I remember each moment this has happened, and that feeling of complete relief, being 100% taken care of – given permission to let go of my worry, my fear:

  1. Our wedding day, seeing him walk down the aisle toward me
  2. Being sick in the bathroom at that back-woods diner (read all about it)
  3. That awful flu we all got when we lived at his parents’ house
  4. That time, when I got sick at Smuggler’s Notch, and he drove like a professional race car driver down the mountain to get me home
  5. When I was in labor, and he rubbed my back to ease the back labor for 12 straight hours. Afterward, I told him that the time seemed to go by so fast. He said that it was the longest 12 hours of his life.
  6. After having E, when I had the gallbladder attack
  7. After the gallbladder attack, a full week of daily blood tests and that awful IV, when I had to have the nurse get him to hold me while I cried
  8. All 3 of my awful stomach-pain pass-out episodes
  9. The time we all had the norovirus

Then yesterday, it was E’s turn. Though nothing compared to the moments above, she had a toddler-sized meltdown of her own. She told me that she didn’t want to go to day care. It’s pretty rare that she doesn’t want to go, unless she really wants to eat a specific snack at home or play with her new Christmas toys.

But, this time she actually cried, almost inconsolably, and begged me over and over again to just rock her in the chair at home. I tried to ask her “Why” she didn’t want to go, a word she doesn’t quite understand yet, so that was unsuccessful. I finally asked, “Are you scared of something?”

She stopped crying and said, “I scared of light at day care.” One of the ceiling lights in the classroom is about to burn out and flickers. It flashes sporadically and reminds E of a fire drill. I told her that we would take care of it, that we would make sure it got fixed, and that I would rock her for a little while before she left. That was all she needed to hear, and she went off to day care happily.

I figured I would just tell one of the teachers about it, and E would have to deal with it for a few more days (The teacher was having trouble getting the light cover off), but Mark couldn’t stand to see her so upset. He told her that he would fix it. So, the next morning, he brought her to day care with some new bulbs, grabbed a foot-stool, and climbed up to replace the flickering one. E climbed up, too, and hugged his legs while he worked.

Ah, my heart is full. My hero, now hers too. When I told her that we would fix it, she trusted that we would. She witnessed him doing something out of the ordinary, something no other dad had done, without fear of looking silly or being intrusive, simply to make her feel safe, loved, and heard.

1 comment:

Anthony Pastizzo said...

What a wonderful story. Ellie is blessed!