Both of them were crying. Red-faced, screaming, tantrum-y, it’s-past-5-o’clock-why-did-I-sign-up-for-this crying. Times two for twins.
I had put the wrong lotion on their chapped lips after the bath. Apparently, it stung instead of being soothing. Stung A LOT. I was immediately Cruella de Vil. I was also DONE. I swung them both on my hips and carried them to their room while they screamed in my ear. I put them down on their beds while they cried and sobbed. I tried to soothe them, but in my stress and frustration, all that came out (in a rather hysterical voice) was, “I’M SORRY I PUT ON THE WRONG LOTION. MOMMY IS NOT A MAGICAL FAIRY PRINCESS. I DO THINGS WRONG SOMETIMES.”
Silence. Not one hiccup or sob. I had finally gotten through to their maniacal over-tired toddler brains. A magical fairy princess was something they both understood.
“I’m sorry I hurt your lips. I did not mean to. I thought that lotion would help. I won’t do it again. Mommy tries really hard,” I continued in a quieter voice, now that they were listening. “I don’t always do things right like a fairy princess.”
My little girl, engulfed in her giant pink comforter, opened her arms for a hug as the last of her tears ran down her face. It made me want to cry.
Because I’m not a magical fairy princess. And I wish I was. But I don’t have a magic wand I can wave. I work in an office. From 6:30 a.m. when I wake up and get out the door until they go to bed at 7 p.m., I have zero seconds for anything other than work, meal prep, pick up, bed, bath, and books. Zero. Mostly, I just feel like Cinderella without a fairy godmother, wandering from one endless task to another.
Here’s the thing: I know you think I am a magical fairy princess, my darling toddlers. I know it appears that Mommy has a magical bag that always has snacks and toys, that Mommy’s magic pumpkin always seems to take you home at the right time, that you have clean clothes to wear and dinner to eat, and that Mommy always plays Candyland. You’re still so little you still think all of these everyday things are given, are easy, are your rights as humans, are something you deserve. You don’t see any of the work that goes into it, the stress that underlies the day, the mistakes I wonder if I’m making.
All you see is a woman who wears a tiara on her head because that’s all I want you to see. I want you to feel safe, and loved, and full, and clean. I want you to feel that you’re learning, and know that when I say I’m going to pick you up I’ll be there. I want to play Candyland with you and walk with you and color with you and believe me, I want to make it all better. I want all your hurt to go away. I want you to have what you want when you want it.
My babies, I wish I could do everything right for you. Believe me. Every second of every day I wonder what I’m doing wrong that’s going to resurface later in your life. A magic wand would sure help with laundry and meals and messes, but it also would help me have more control over the things that keep me up at night. Are you learning in preschool? Are you loved enough? Do we read enough books and do enough art projects? Do you eat too much sugar and not enough vegetables? How much macaroni and cheese won’t kill you?
And sometimes the world makes giving you everything impossible. Sometimes it’s not healthy for you to have all you want when you want it. Sometimes it’s too expensive. Sometimes Mommy’s tiara is just broken, tarnished, or tired out. Somedays I can’t even find it under the mountains of laundry and emails to wear it. I’m not a magical fairy princess, but I promise you I try as hard one would. One day you’ll understand that tiaras are usually cheap plastic. That wands don’t work and wishes don’t usually come true. You’ll discover fairy princesses aren’t real. But hopefully, you will realize your mother’s love is, as faulty and broken as it can be. And that my love for you requires no magic at all.