November 6th, 2010
I had a long night last night. I was awake for hours, having irregular Braxton Hicks contractions. That is totally normal at this point in a pregnancy; it’s called pre-term labor, and it’s just my body sort of practicing for the upcoming birth. But that doesn’t make it any less annoying to not be able to get to sleep. I did all the stuff you’re supposed to do to get rid of Braxton Hicks: got up and walked around, had a couple of glasses of water, ate something, laid on the couch with my feet up and a warm rice pack on my stomach and watched an episode of Bones. Around 4am the contractions finally stopped and I went back to bed.
Because today is Saturday, I was able to sleep in a bit, but by 9 o’clock I was awake. I needed to get up anyway. We have some cleaning and laundry to do so we’re ready for our long-anticipated guests when they arrive Tuesday.
Annalie and I also needed to do some school, since we didn’t quite finish yesterday, just reading and a spelling test. Unfortunately, even though she’s doing really well at reading, those are probably the two subjects Annalie likes the least right now. It’s funny to me, and hard to comprehend, since reading and spelling were always my two easiest and favorite subjects.
But it didn’t surprise me when I called for Annalie to come to the table, telling her we needed to get reading and spelling done, and she came stomping into the dining room in a snit. I remained calm and asked her to take off her Little Mermaid singing necklace and put down the cell phone that she was carrying, since we don’t allow toys at the table when we’re doing school. She yanked the necklace off her neck and threw it on the floor at the same time that she slammed the cell phone down hard on the counter.
I calmly told her that she needed to go sit on the top step for a time-out, because she knows better than to throw things. And…well, let’s just say the situation deteriorated from there. Over the next hour, there was some crying, some yelling, and some stomping around—and I’m not going to tell you who did what, but I will tell you that I did not remain calm. We managed to get part of the reading done, but then Annalie went to get herself a drink of water from the fridge dispenser and accidentally-on-purpose let the cup fill and overflow, soaking two photographs and a picture one of Annalie’s friends colored for her.
That was when I sort of lost it. I asked Annalie what on earth was wrong with her, and told her to just go, to get out of my sight. She ran out of the kitchen crying, knowing she had done something wrong but also hurt that her normally patient mother had told her to get lost. Frustrated with Annalie and myself, I tossed the ruined pictures, grabbed a bunch of paper towels and started sopping up the water.
Troy came into the kitchen to see what was going on. I explained what had happened and told him that I was not having a good day, that I just needed to go back to bed, that I didn’t think I was in any shape to meet a friend for pottery-painting that afternoon. Troy suggested I email and ask if we could reschedule, so I did. (Thanks again for being so understanding, Shayne!)
Troy went to talk to Annalie in her room while I went to our bedroom and, after putting away the folded laundry all over my side of the bed, curled up with my ridiculously huge pregnancy pillow pulled the covers up over my head, bracing myself for what I knew I needed to do: cry. Even though I know sometimes it’s necessary to make myself feel better, I really hate crying. And I knew I had a cry coming, so I just wanted to get it over with.
A few minutes later, I was wiping my face and debating whether I wanted to roll over and get a tissue or just sniff hard, when Annalie came quietly into the room and climbed up on the bed. She got under the covers and put her head next to mine on the pillow and said, “I’m sorry I spilled water all over the fridge, Mama. And I’m sorry you’re having a rough morning. Daddy explained it to me.”
I put my arm around her, gave her a kiss, and told her I loved her. I apologized for losing my temper; she said she forgave me. We laid there talking idly for a couple of minutes when I had an idea.
“Hey Annalie, can you tell me how to spell egg?”
“Right. Do you think you could tell me how to spell, oh, the word pets?”
Quietly to herself, Annalie sounded it out, “Puh-eh-tuh-sss…” then spelled it for me. I told her she was right. She was silent for a second, then giggled and asked, “Is this my spelling test?”
My response was to ask her if she knew how to spell less. She giggled again and spelled it perfectly. We went through all the rest of her spelling words that way, and she got every single one right, even the trickiest one, give.
When we were finished, I asked if she would go get her reading book so she could read her story a second time. She groaned a bit, so I sighed theatrically and said, “You know what would really make me feel so much better right now? If only someone could read me a story about ducks and chicks.” Annalie laughed at that. I told her to go tell Daddy she’d gotten 100% on her spelling test, and then come back to me with her reading book.
Laughing, she leapt off the bed and went running down the hall, calling out excitedly, “Daddy, Daddy! I got one hundred percent right on my spelling test! Not on my dry-erase board, but with my mouth! I even got the hardest word right, wanna hear? G-i-v-e! That spells give!”
She came back to the bedroom with her book and read through her story again, this time without me pointing at the words as she read, with good expression, and with almost no faltering or errors. I thanked her and praised her improvement on the second reading. She smiled and batted her lashes in that I-know-I’m-smart-but-you-can-tell-me-again way she has. I told her we were done with school, that she could go play.
She kissed me on the cheek and said, “Thanks, Mom!”
A few minutes later I got up. I got a phone call from another friend and made plans to meet her and her kids later for dinner and frozen custard while Troy watches the Nebraska game in peace. Annalie got dressed all in black and stuck a scarf in the back of her pants and went outside to be a cat while Troy raked up some leaves. I poured myself a cup of coffee and took a deep breath.