E and I are at a pretty magical place in our relationship. I read about the "sweet spot" the other day. The place in parenting where you're out of the daily slog of doing every single thing for your little one, constantly putting out fires and juggling eighty tasks at once, and yet where your status as Persona Numero Uno is still guaranteed in your child's eyes. There's lots of "I love you's", lots of snuggles, but not quite so much bargaining, heavy lifting or timing out. I think we're there. At least, almost.
She still wants to be with me, but she doesn't want me to be by her side every minute of the day. She doesn't need me to do everything for her, but she still needs me.
When to get in there and when to step back? When to offer help and when to offer a challenge? These are the questions that will continue to drive me crazy, even I as I remind myself that I shouldn't overthink this. I should listen to my gut. The problem is that I've been listening to so much parenting propaganda for the last five years - often conflicting and more often confounding - that I'm not sure I can hear my gut anymore. Guilt I can hear. Guilt is loud. Regret is deafening. But my gut? Apart from the odd grumble when I'm too close to a chocolate cake, it's pretty quiet.
She keeps coming back to me. I'm surprised by this. She has made a friend and they go off together, running and climbing out of my sight, acting out elaborate play scenarios with mind-numbing repetition. But every few minutes I see her little pigtails and her favourite twirly shirt scurrying towards me, smiling and confident, happy to have made a new friend, happy that mom is where she left her, with snacks. It'll take a little practice, but I think the day is coming when I won't picture her lost and bleeding from the head every time she vanishes from my field of vision. I think I'll be able to get to a place where I don't worry that I haven't spent enough quality time with her as she runs off with her friends. We'll get there. I figure I have about four years before my #1 standing is in serious jeopardy. And if I do it right, I won't slip farther than 2nd or 3rd. At least until the babies come, but I may be getting ahead of myself.