Gone Coastal

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Work in progress

Though we won't always admit it, even to ourselves, there are times when watching over a baby or small child can feel like watching paint dry. Except you can't leave the room or the paint will crack, or drip into the electrical outlet, or, if you're lucky, just get really messy.
I've started to recognize that for myself, this often comes when I'm tired. Okay, a little more overtired. Maybe the baby's been teething. Or she dozed for twenty minutes on a dogwalk and hence skipped what might have been a solid two hour nap. Or you were up late at night running a steam bath to soothe a croupy cough. Or maybe it wasn't even the baby. You just had paperwork to be finished by a deadline. Or some car on the next street has had its rotating car alarm set off in the wee hours three days in a row. Or the neighbours mophead dogs won't stop yapping. Or some national comm provider had a misprint on an ad and people from all across the states are calling your house at all hours, looking for a deal on voice over IP service.
Whatever the cause, I sometimes find myself sitting on the floor, legs apart as bumpers with her sitting somewhat upright between them, looking at her looking back at me, and thinking, "Now what?" She's been recently fed and changed, and yet she's unsettled, not content with the toys at hand, knowing somehow that I'm at a loss for any fresh entertainment. I run over and over the mental checklists, but there's nothing new in my mind.
Now I can't make her nap at will (wouldn't that be a big money skill) but whenever that next window comes, I need to think hard about setting aside my to-do list and just settling into that cozy chair, closing my eyes and letting a snooze take over for awhile. When I do that, I usually wake up a better mom. Sometimes even the briefest doze will refresh me, and I may even get to something on that list, like lunch.
And when she wakes and we resume the routine, my eyes are a little less fuzzy and I can see that this paint is no roll-on contractor job on another wall (no offence Jack), but just a little piece of a masterpiece in progress. I'm not the artist, but I get to add a few brush strokes here and there. And this is the highest quality artist oils (some miracle version with no fumes) so it dries very slowly. If my own brush strokes land in the wrong place, or my brush is dry and it just doesn't fill the space, the master is able to work it into the overall scheme. And if I let him guide my hands and fill my pallette, I can rest assured the end result will be a wonder to behold.

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