I keep thinking if I knew more about nineteenth century theories of astronomy I’d have a really good metaphor to describe what it’s like living with Ingrid, age 2. Isn’t there something about concentric spheres getting in harmony and creating sublime music, then falling out of alignment and causing havoc and devastation?
On Wednesday Ingrid and I went on an outing (a field trip to the hospital where the baby will be born) that was about as pleasant as could be. We parked a block and a half away to avoid paying for parking, and we walked there slowly, holding hands, stopping (literally, I swear) to smell the flowers, name the ones we knew and make up names for the ones we didn’t. After a week of stifling heat, it was a gentle, warm day with sunshine and breeze, and there we were, toddling and waddling along, holding hands, looking for all the world like a mom and daughter who were totally content with just about everything.
Back home, I sat at the table while Ingrid ate her lunch. I don’t remember what set us off laughing, but we both kind of broke out into giggles together, feeding each other's laughter, and giggled right into each other's eyes for a good long time. As we both wound down, Ingrid, still grinning at me, exclaimed, We’re twins! Stunning.
And then there was Thursday: unprecedented, long, inconsolable tantrums at every turn. And whining. Oh, the whining. Whining that no amount of ignoring, correcting, or cajoling could stem. How many times that day did I say You need to ask for what you want in a big voice and say please? How totally ineffective was it? By the time A got home at 6 it was all I could do to grit my teeth and say Please take her to the park for a while.
And then, yesterday, totally pleasant again. She looked at books and ran around the yard while I watered plants. We spent a sweet half hour playing with a big bucket full of styrofoam peanuts. She occupied herself for a half hour at the bulk mail station finding tiny scraps of paper on the floor to throw in the trash while I finished organizing my mailing for work.
The advantage to the roller coaster: Either I'm terrified I’ll never be able to pull off caring for two kids at once, or I'm sad at having the lovely mother-daughter dyad changed forever. But I’m never just one of those things for very long at a stretch.