Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Transitioning to normal life

We're back from the South, the land where mac 'n cheese is considered a vegetable and everything comes with sweet tea and a biscuit.

I agree with my husband (an urban planner in a parallel universe) that Charleston is very much like New York City. It's shaped the same, and has a similar urban feel, amid the classic southern architecture and the sprawling live oaks. I loved it.

One thing that was a bit jarring was the narration on the ferry to Fort Sumter. The narrator's tone was just too upbeat as he described "the port of entry for millions of enslaved Africans, who were kept here in quarantine until free from pestilance and disease" Not to mention the former home of a Native American tribe that "has become obselete as a result of small pox, slavery and liquors."

I picked Will up from her grandparents' yesterday and she did really well until it was time to go to sleep for the night. She wanted to be in Mama's bed right away, and I figured that was fine (a chance to cuddle and the quickest way to get back downstairs and start catching up on all the TV we missed last week).

From that point on, things deteriorated. She needed to be reassured, probably by our presence and her routine, but I just couldn't get the balance right. We moved from bed to bed; she made requests for things she didn't even want (Pooh! more teeth! light on!) and got more tired and agitated and upset as time went on.

I do think bringing her downstairs to watch Dora at 10 pm was probably a mistake, but not the rest. I couldn't just force her into her crib, to sleep, our routine.

Finally, after we both had a major meltdown, she crawled into the middle of our bed and then pushed me away and told me to "GO!" At once, everything came into sharp focus. She was afraid that I would go, that if she went to sleep I would be gone. Even though she had a great time with her grandparents, she was worried that I would disappear again.

So I climbed into the bed and held my almost-2-year-old girl, and I told her I would be there in the morning, that I would always be there for her, and if I ever had to go away for a little while, I would always come back.

It reminded me of a piece of embroidered material we saw at one of the plantations in South Carolina. The embroidering said that the sack had been given to her grandmother Rose by Rose's mother, when Rose was sold away at the age of nine. It had been filled with a tattered dress and three handfuls of pecans, and Rose was told it would always be filled with her mother's love. Rose never saw her mother again.

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