Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Two weeks ago, my daughter, Olivia, who is six, came into my bedroom at around 1:30 a.m. She asked to come into bed. I told her she needed to go back into her bed, and took her hand, and led her back into her room. She said to me quietly, "I already made my bed Mom.". Indeed she had. I looked up at her top bunk, and her comforter was smooth and tightly tucked around her mattress, and her pillows were neatly stacked, complete with the same three animals she places upon them everyday. Lining the bed, all neatly arranged, were all of her little animal friends. It was made as she makes it everyday. Painstakinly detailed. Obsessively done. She makes her bed like this as soon as she wakes up. Before she uses the bathroom, before she climbs down the ladder of that top bunk, everyday, made perfectly, as neat as a pin. I didn't have the heart to make her climb back up the ladder, and un-do all of her hard work. I took her into our bed, and tucked her in, and lay next to her, listening to her inhale and exhale, thinking about her silently making her bed, in the still house, as we all slept, and I quietly cried.
My daughter Olivia, I fear, is trying so hard to please her Dad and I. She see's a lot. She hears a lot. She takes it all in. She rarely complains. She is a smart, joyful child. Since the moment she was removed from my body. A joy. A light. She is a gift. But her parents are two stressed, worried, short tempered people. My husband stresses, and keeps it within himself, only to have it emerge in inappropriate anger, and frustration, directed toward the most begnin situations, ie; the dishwasher not being loaded "properly". I catastrophisize everything, from a knock in the car's brakes, to dwelling, and obsessing about every unpaid bill, and the zero balance in the checking account. I see a girl who, I believe, if she just tries hard enough in school, and just keeps her little amount of space that is all hers as neat as possible, and looks after her two baby sister's while I am cooking, and looking obviously unhappy, she just might make everything better. I believe this, because she is me, and I am her, and the little girl I see before me, is me at age six. The girl who was left home with an alchoholic mother for 48 hour long stretches, because her Dad was a NYC firefighter. My mother let us know each and every day how broke we were, and what a hardship it was to care for us all. I too did dog and pony shows in the hopes of "cheering my Mom up". Maybe if I was quiet enough, and maybe if I cleaned the bathrooms, and attempted to dust the house, she would magically smile, and never look back. She would never worry about money, and her and Dad wouldn't fight, and we would live happily ever after.
I must remember that little girl, more often.

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