I lay on on my toddler’s play mat tonight, overcome with a sort of lethargy, apathy, almost. Couldn’t get myself to move for any reason. She needed dinner… she needed her medicine… she needed to go to bed. For about 10 minutes, I just shut out those constant “mom-reminders” that ring in my head from morning to night, from the moment she wakes up to the moment she goes to bed at night. I didn’t want to think about everything that needed to be done, all the balls that I’m juggling, all those schedules that needed to be maintained. I just wanted to be, just another object lying on my daughter’s play mat.
And so I lay there. She was sitting right by me, reading a book. She stuck her foot into my nose and mouth a couple of times. Sat on my hip and bounced, announcing in delight that she was “jumping on amma”. She clambered over me, this way and then that, several times. She put her snack bowl over my face like an oxygen mask and watched me with the kindly attention of a ward nurse, to see how I’d react. I didn’t. It afforded her considerable entertainment, and for me it was strangely liberating. My day, just like every other day, had been spent monitoring what she was doing and wasn’t doing… “wear your clothes!” “don’t pull off your underwear!” “don’t throw the cup!” “come for your bath!”. Now, since I was just another object on the mat, I could let it all be. For those ten minutes, it didn’t matter that she was sitting there playing bare-bottomed or that her cup lay in the far corner of the drawing room.
She lay next to me and played with my hair, humming under her breath. Then she gave me a hug and said, “Love you too, amma!” (the “love you” from my side was clearly a given). Then she went back to reading her book, her big toe lodged in my nostril again, apparently utterly contented. The child who’d spent the entire evening whining and clinging to me had disappeared. Some vestige of energy returned to my limbs and I sat up slowly. I reached for the discarded Peppa Pig undies, and wonder of wonders, she put it on without a fuss. Then I hoisted myself off the mat, ready for the dinner to bedtime drill.
My 10 minutes of suspended animation turned out to be the best thing I’d done all day. I’ve always wondered what it felt like to be one of my daughter’s favourite dolls. Contrary to what I’d assumed, it wasn’t a bad life at all.