Meeting the needs of three

“I’m just going to go upstairs for a bit to see if she’ll go to sleep, alright?” I repeat myself. Talitha’s lost in whatever is on TV. I promise her, multiple times that I’ll be back down once her baby sister is asleep. Then we’ll turn the television off and do something together. She murmurs agreement, probably just to get me to go away.

I don’t feel I’ve given her much today. I was up too late working, then Ophelia woke up more than usual, chatting and squealing and rolling over in the dark.

At one point I turned away from her, hoping she’d settle down if I ignored her. She screamed.

So, that was our night, in and out of sleep. Her brain is working on something big. She can’t switch off, though she’s tired.

So, mama’s been hitting the coffee today and tackling tasks that don’t require much. I’ve not felt completely here.

The tired baby who really, really needs a nap so she can recover from her exciting night wants to be held all day but also cannot stay still. She is grabbing for everything.

She cannot nap. She cannot stop rolling and getting into crawling position. She is wired.

She finally falls asleep at the breast. I ease away from her and sneak back downstairs.
“OK, I’m back. Remember, when this programme is done, we’ll do something else, OK?”
“No.”
“But we need to cook dinner and make bread.”
“But I want to watch more.”
“I know that but you’ve watched lots.”
“I want to watch lots.”
“We don’t have to turn it off now. When it’s done.”

The show finishes and she turns it off. For a moment, I think this will be the first time in forever that she’s turned off the television and not been upset about it.

I’m wrong. She starts crying.

I feel like just putting it back on so I can cook in peace and not deal with this. But she has already watched more TV today than usual and there is a need here…there is a need…I’m looking for it…

I’m not sure why but I suddenly ask: “Would you like to go on my back?” I haven’t worn her in the house for a long time. I’m surprised at how enthusiastically she agrees.

She is still crying when I tie her into the podaegi. Eventually her sobs quiet and I feel her muscles relax into my back. She begins to look at what I’m doing. Connection and distraction – that’s what she needed.

I think for a moment of the smallness of her. Of the growing distance between these moments where we get to be mama and baby. Then, just like that, it’s over. She wants down. She wants to peel the carrots for me.

I hand her the peeler and I hear the cry. Ophelia’s woken up. She will now go into the pod. We’ve moved on.