“I’m takin’ the phone off the hook,” Mama said, strangling a bottle of wine. “Leave it be.”
She vanished into her room while the twins and I huddled together under blankets trying to keep warm.
At least tomorrow was a school day.
I’m the youngest of three, the baby of the family. This isn’t something that I’m just coming to terms with now at 40-something; it’s something that’s practically been branded.
When I was little, Marco (3 years older) and Melinda (7 years older) would tease me all the time. That’s all I really remember about my youth with them– the endless teasing and taunting. Marco wasn’t so bad; he just didn’t want me hanging around him and his friends which was hard for this baby to comprehend because all I ever wanted to do was “boy things.” Melinda, on the other hand, oh was she ruthless. Actually it wasn’t so much teasing that she would do either. She just had these ridiculous expectations and when not met, she could be darn right brutal doling out her punishment.
It’s probably typical sibling behavior, but it doesn’t negate the fact that I very much felt like the odd one out when it came to my siblings and family.
When my parents split when I was 9, both Marco and Melinda instantly sided with our mom, leaving me, the baby, to vacillate between Mama and Papa.
Soon, it became quite clear that I was used as a fucking pawn.
Papa would ask me about Marco and Melinda; Mama would ask me if I had the child support check. Neither of them ever asked me about me and that’s not me being a baby, that’s me being a pre-adolescent needing reassurance, love, guidance and getting anything but.
Poor me, I know.
Every single time my dad would ask about Marco or Melinda, I would feel a sting inside. A slice to my heart. I tried convincing myself that I was being dramatic and that of course Papa loved me like he did them. I tried convincing myself that the only reason he always asked about them was because he missed them and they refused to have any contact with him. But. The bottom line is that it made me feel like… well… nothing.
I honestly started wondering if maybe the only reason my dad picked me up for weekends was to get details about Marco, Melinda, and my mom. Yet I never said anything to him about how it made me feel; I never told him to stop.
I would continue gossiping and when it would be time to go home, I’d inquire about the check to give to Mama when he dropped me off. Lord knows I didn’t want her wrath bestowed upon me if I came home without some money.
Fast forward a lifetime and honestly (and sadly), things haven’t really changed.
Today my 80-year-old dad can’t go a day without complaining that he hears from nobody and that he has to go on The Facebook to find out anything. And he always, always asks if I’ve talked with my one nephew (my brother’s oldest 23 year-old son). Rarely does he ask how my own daughter is doing. Maybe it’s because he sees pictures of her on Facebook; maybe it’s because he knows I won’t ever let that ray of sunshine turn grey.
It’s a damn good thing I have faith in myself.
It’s a damn good thing I’m a great mom.
I may not be the best (attentive) wife, but my mom pants are always on.
I refuse to do unto my daughter what was done to me.
She won’t be getting belittled on the daily. She won’t be made to feel like nothing on the daily. It’s not going to happen.
She won’t be branded to feel insignificant.
Tomorrow is a big day for my little girl.
As much as I want this change to happen, as much as I know this will be an amazingly good change…I also know that I’m going to cry. A lot.
I sat here today for over an hour trying to decide what the cake I ordered for tomorrow should say. The cake that will feed all the kids and all the staff (and then some) at Lovie’s daycare.
Tomorrow is her last day there. The cake is to help celebrate this milestone and help us say goodbye.
It would’ve been her last day there long ago, but there wasn’t an opening in her new school until now (summer program starts Monday). While Lovie is doted on like crazy at daycare/preschool (they treat her like a pop star), it’s really much more of a daycare environment than a preschool one. I’m not saying she should be schooled the entire day, but she’s so smart and I don’t want her to get bored (and Montessori school, which she’ll be attending, seems to be an amazingly perfect fit for Lovie and her independence and love of learning).
So tomorrow’s the day we finally say goodbye to daycare.
We’ve had some rough moments these past four-plus years—from getting ready in the morning to leaving her friends at the end of the day—but for the most part it’s all been pretty damn great. Especially since I’ve been able to spend nearly two hours more a day with her because the daycare was close to my work.
But tomorrow will be the last time we’ll spend so much time together during the work week. Tomorrow will be the last time I get to peek at her through the rear-view mirror as I drive the 20 miles to daycare to drop her off, or the 20 miles from daycare driving home. Tomorrow will be the last time we can jam out to Pompeii or Happy or yes, even the Wiggles. Tomorrow will be the last time she can ask me to stop for an Icee or chocolate ice cream because after tomorrow, we’ll be literally two minutes from home.
So what do you have written on a cake for such an occasion?
I almost went with a silly “got cake?” message. Then I thought maybe “eat me” would be fun, too. But this isn’t fun. This saying goodbye to the people who helped mold my baby into a little person, who helped her and encouraged her to sit up and crawl and walk and run and eat with a fork and use the bathroom, isn’t a ton of fun.
So then I thought maybe a simple “Thanks” on the cake would suffice. But really? “Thanks” on a big-ass sheet cake with a smiling sun and flowers?
Eventually I opted to leave it blank. Let the smiling sun and flowers speak for itself.
Tomorrow is a big day for my little girl… and me.