Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rowan got sad, wrote a letter to mommy

When I got home from work a short time ago, I found the babysitter finishing up making dinner, which is normal, but Rowan was nowhere to be seen, which is not.

The sitter let me know that Rowan had seemed sad since she picked her up from school, and after asking for some snuggling and a story, had decided that she wanted to write (actually dictate) a letter to Aimee. Then Rowan shut herself in her room, which was where she still was when I got home. The sitter then handed me the letter she'd written out as Rowan had dictated it.

I went up to Rowan's room and after giving her a hug and talking with her for a minute about how we both missed mommy every day, she seemed to feel better and came downstairs. Then I read the letter while she was distracted by something else. The contents both made me laugh out loud and cry at the same time.

(Before I share the contents of the letter, I should tell you that Rowan loves McDonald's, but I won't take her there very often. I've explained that the food is very bad for you, and during our last visit there I joked of what Aimee would say if she saw me there with Rowan: "Hon! McDonald's, really?? Ugh! You can do better, can't you? Toad!" Rowan thought that was funny.)

Here's what Rowan wrote to Aimee:
Dear mom,
I wish you were here. I want you to see how big I have gotten. My dad has been a really good daddy and sometimes he doesn't let me go to McDonald's. I love you lots.

Man, I really love that kid. And I love that she's starting to see something deeper here - that at least part of my motivation in being as good a father as I possibly can rests in the knowledge that I feel an even more profound responsibility to Rowan's development and care because the 'better parent' was lost. That's not a knock on my own parenting, which is improved. It's just a recognition of the vast, immeasurable loss.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tonight's 'mommy moment'

Most parents love it when their kids take naps. Not me. If Rowan takes a nap, it's almost a guarantee that she won't go to sleep until at least an hour or so after I put her to bed. I try to avoid her falling asleep during the day as much as possible.

But sometimes it happens anyway, and today was such a day. Sure enough, she had a hell of a time getting to sleep. I tried the usual - allowing her to read a few books typically does the trick - but no go this time.
Not the chair in Rowan's
room, but similar

So I did something I haven't done in years.

I went up to her room. I turned off her light. I sat down in the rocking chair in her room, and I called her over to me. She climbed up into my lap, and I quietly held her and rocked her. At first, she was confused, asking what I was doing. I explained that when she had been very young, her mommy (and sometimes I) had rocked her to sleep in that rocking chair, and I was going to try and help her get sleepy the same way now. She took a few minutes to get comfortable, but soon she was nestled into my chest, eyes closed, breathing getting slower. After a few minutes I stood up and carefully placed her on her bed, pulled up the covers to her chin, and gently kissed her on the top of her head. Her eyes never opened, but the smile on her face was enough to nearly bring tears to my eyes. It was still there several seconds later after I tore myself away and headed back downstairs to continue work on the night's chores (and to write this).

It made me recall all the times I had seen Aimee rock Rowan to sleep (or at least to relax her in preparation for going to sleep) when Rowan was a baby and toddler. It was a mommy moment.

And tonight, it was my mommy moment.

Rowan still misses her mommy greatly, and always will. But here and there, I do what I can to fill in the gap.