Last night I woke up in the wee dark hours to the sound of Gwyneth’s tiny anger. Justin was with her already when I went to check her, so I went back to bed.
Then I woke up again, to the sound of Gwyneth’s tiny rage. She was clearly MAD. She was screaming, but not the tantrum scream — the GIVE ME WHAT I WANT scream. I got out of bed, and fumbled my way to her room, expecting to see Justin. No Justin. No Gwyneth, either. Spare room… nope. Living room… nope. Kitchen? Jackpot. Tiny enraged human, soothed with graham crackers and yogurt. Larger bewildered father, saying “She was starving. I dunno.” I went back to bed.
Then I woke up again at 2, to sustained tantrum crying. Stumble to her room. Justin is lying with her. She is enraged. I didn’t even ask why, just said “Get. Go sleep. I’ve got her” and we traded places. I shut the bedroom door behind him, pulled G’s sheets and blankets over my nightgown, and talked quietly to her about how I was all snuggled in, and ready to lie with her, and it’s nice and dark and quiet and the noise machine is on, and wouldn’t you like to sleep now? No, no she would not. She wanted to go play in the living room. But eventually she stopped wailing. She finally sat down on the floor, and stared at the door, little hiccuping sobs coming from her chest. Then she crawled to bed, crawled into my arms, and snuggled until she fell asleep.
So when my alarm went off this morning, too few hours later, dragging myself to work sucked. SUUUUUCKED. I had some resentment held close to my tired chest over The Toddler. The Toddler Who Is An Asshole.
Then today I saw, in rapid succession, images of Syrian refugees holding their terrified children. Images of Jewish refugee children from the 30s. Concentration camp images from the 40s. A story about a baby that died in daycare, apparently smothered by a blanket at naptime. An amalgamated creative nonfiction story about a father who lost his two year old daughter to drowning as they fled their war-torn home. And, the icing on the cake, a real photo of a dead toddler, about Gwyn’s age, face down on a beach in the surf, with an aid worker looking on.
And all I want is to have a screaming toddler keep me awake at night, in my comfortable home in a peaceful rural town where I have a stable job and good friends and strong connections to my loving family.
And to not have those images and stories in my head, and in my heart. And to not be too aware that they are just the tip of the iceberg. And to not know that there are people walking past me every day who don’t think that innocent people suffering through a war are worthy of compassion.
I want to live in a better world than this one.
For today, I’m going to love my daughter. I’m going to stop consuming news or social media. I’m going to do my job. I’m going to hug my husband and my friends. I’m going to tell you all that I love you. And I’m going to recharge my emotional batteries.
Maybe tomorrow I can fight the good fight. Today… Today I’m just going home.