Claire and I are under the covers. The door to the bedroom is shut and locked because that's how we sleep every night. I can't have it open, gaping into the unlit hallway. My imagination runs wild enough without a black hole to stare at throughout the dark hours.
She's asking for her milk every two seconds because she's fighting sleep. My hair is freed from those black ponytail holders that never come undone without a fight. It smells a bit like vanilla inside the room. Both from the body wash I used in the shower and the spray I used after I threw on one of my oldest Victoria's Secret tees and black pajama pants that I just pulled from the dryer. The last person to wear them was Brooke. I miss her.
We slept in late, like we have been for several days, because we can. Because my schedule allows it and I could honestly give zero shits who judges the fact that we wake up at 9:30 most days and lay there counting, singing out the ABC's and doing little dances until 10.
I was hoping she would fall asleep though, so I could sneak out and wrap up some gifts. I'll have to put together some of her toys too and most nights I'll need to finish up posts and articles instead of hole up in my office with a load of tape and sparkly, Santa-covered paper. This was my chance though, a weekend night without a deadline in sight!
It was nearing midnight though and little girl was still chatting away watching The Land Before Time - a movie that rounds out my childhood quite nicely but if I could slap Little Foot in the face I would. Okay, okay, I wouldn't slap Little Foot, that's a bit harsh, but I'd rather not watch it again for about ten years.
My phone was buzzing every few minutes. Texts, snaps, Facebook messages - everyone was awake and asking questions, wanting to chat and be flirty. Was there a full moon I didn't know about? I'm going to be honest here though, there was only one "he" I actually cared about talking to. The others I was just humoring and the other one on my mind, well, he was busy with someone else.
Finally I just gave in. I threw up a "fuck this" to the plan I had in my head and gave Claire a kiss on the cheek. I went into the kitchen and popped some popcorn, her favorite, grabbed a movie I snagged on Black Friday, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, and went back into the bedroom. How harshly are you judging me now?
I have never eaten in bed before. I was worried about the crumbs. My obsessive behavior was creeping up my neck in a way that I immediately started regretting the decision. But when Claire sat up, wide-eyed still, and yelled for her "sack," which is "snack," I melted. Give the baby what she wants and let the mom relax a bit.
I plugged my phone in to charge and laid it on the nightstand. I ignored every vibration from there on out, except for the occasional text to the bestie who was somewhere over the Pacific because I wanted her to walk off the plane to find some light-hearted and random messages from me.
About ten minutes into the movie Claire yelled, "Stop!" Her little hands were in the air, ever-so-dramatically and she was staring at me. I didn't understand but I pressed paused and asked, "What's wrong baby?"
Then she laid down. And told me to lay down. I cleaned up and obeyed my tiny, almost-two year old. Snuggled up with our noses touching, she grabbed her pacifier, shoved it in her mouth and took my face in her hands. She let out a little giggle and said, "Night Night Mommy," before rolling over and closing her eyes. She was asleep within minutes. That moment was worth the late night. It also made all questioning of my parenting skills go right out the window.
Did I just become a "cool" mom? I think I did and these memories aren't just mine but they're hers too. I hope she looks back and remembers them fondly because I'm not forgetting a single bit.
She fell asleep a few minutes before 9pm on Sunday night though. So, I'm not a terribly irresponsible mother. Instead, I'm just continuing to solidify the fact that we are the real-life Gilmore Girls, just switch out the Gilmore with Fleming and voila .. you've got us. In a few years we can swap out the popcorn for pizza and the milk for coffee and maybe we'll get our own show.
I doubt myself a lot when it comes to being a single mom. I feel very guilty all the time that she's not getting the life that I had imagined or thought I had promised her. But then there are nights like this that I realize are ending up to be so much better than what I had planned. These real minutes together are so much better than ones that are forced or fake. She'll come out stronger from all of this too, I won't allow it to go any other way.