Jennifer Hudson sings “YOU’RE GONNA LOVE (deep breath) MEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!” and it sounds like our family theme song.
The girls love an audience. Nora takes my hand, draws me to sit down in the front of the couch. "Seeet down, Mama!" She disappears behind the couch, then holds up a toy car, peeks over, looking at Randy and me. This is as far as she goes, as much as she knows how to make a puppet show.
I fill in the blank, narrate, “Once upon a time there was a car. And he met another car.” A purple one appears on top of the couch, next to the first. “So they had a race. On your mark, get set, go!” The two cars travel along the back of the furniture. One falls off the couch into a plant. “Then the other car helped pull him out!” I suggest. We are delighted when her little cars act out the story. Imaginative play is new to her and both thrilling and deeply satisfying to us to watch.
When one of the girls is especially needy, and I need to lighten us both up, I sing: “Attention and praise, attention and praise, we will give you attention and praise!” I sing this song with utterly sincere affection, just as I did years ago to our chocolate lab. It works pretty well when Mia is sitting on my foot, her arms and legs wrapped tight as a cast around my leg as I try to walk. “Mommy! I want to BE with you!” she wails, as if it’s visiting day at the military boarding school for toddlers.
How is their need for love any different than mine? Than anyone’s? Is it just more bald-faced? What are blogs but a plea for strokes? We all experience neediness or emotional vulnerability. What is so scary about it? Why do we recoil at a stranger’s desperation?
Hip Mama and Alternadad to the contrary, parenthood is the antithesis of cool. What is cool, after all, but irony turned into lifestyle? And if modern irony is all about detached observing of the messiness of emotions, then parenthood requires us to do nothing but the opposite: attach, attach, attach, physically, emotionally, permanently.