Today has been a good day after ages. And when I say ages I mean almost a month that has felt like forever.
Like everything bad it started with a hot forehead and a thermometer reading that confirmed that the little one was running a fever. If I were truly honest I think it started with the new term in school, and my getting assigned the role of a class teacher this term. They say the first few days in a new role is always the most difficult but darn it, when do the first few days end? Anyway. Not that I am complaining about class-teachership. I adore having my own class, and lugging bag after bag of books, old and new for my class library. I adore walking into the classroom feeling like mother-hen. Although more often than not it involves resolving disagreements as well.
Coming back to the fever my little one was running, because that, after all was when it started going further downhill… Along with a ridiculously high temperature, Miss Munchkin kept coughing a dry cough that ached my chest each time I heard it, and one morning she woke up crying and struggling to breathe. Guess what Mother of The Year did? Went to work. Having asked Daddy dearest to take Miss Munchkin to the clinic, I went to school because I couldn’t afford to miss a few important classes. Half way to work, I wondered if I had made a mistake because I was on the verge of breaking down in tears. My mind was barely functioning, until I received a call from the Husband telling me that the doctor had assured him that it was only viral and nothing worse and that she would get better in three days. When I came back home that day, she seemed okay although warm still, and Jenny told me she’d been eating well and playing. The same thing happened the next day, and by the third day her fever had come down. That afternoon I went bargain hunting at a Warehouse Sale of a popular bookstore, and just as I had got down from the bus and tried crossing the street, it started raining cats and dogs. Deciding to make a run for it rather than waiting at the bus stop, I ran across the street, and the moment I entered the hall, sopping wet, shirt soaked and sticking to my skin, I received a call from Jenny that the fever was back with a vengeance. Everything that followed felt like a blur: picking up books, paying for it at the counter, booking a cab back home. Hoping that my intention to be a good teacher justified my neglecting to be a mother, I finally reached home, guilt ridden, with my bag of books feeling heavier than usual.
That evening kind of set the tone for the next two weeks. The fever subsided after the very next day, and that being a Saturday and Bihu, we celebrated the first day of the year the only way we knew: by singing. My sister’s family visited us and we spent the day in the company of her guitar and age-old songs. But then, after they left, Miss Munchkin, having forsaken her nap in favour of listening to her Mamma and Jethai sing, turned into a screaming banshee. Bedtime became a nightmare, and she refused to be put down. Had I known that the banshee act would be more the norm than the exception for the next week, I would have been very, very wary. The tantrums continued, the screaming and the yelling and the kicking continued. I was at my wits end, overwhelmed, wondering what I had done to deserve being subjected to two hours of “I want to watch TV, I want to watch TV” at 2am. And did I mention that Miss Munchkin had decided that she didn’t need to wear clothes anymore? Every morning I had to manhandle her into wearing her school uniform, and every evening I had to rock her to sleep while standing till my back felt like it would snap. At the end of the week I finally gave up and realised that if this was how it was going to be, I would have to get used to it. I mean, it would be so, so easy to just give in, you know. Let her watch that extra bit of TV, let her stay home and not force her to go to school, say yes when she said she didn’t want to sleep and let her play instead. But I knew that if I listened to her, she would get the message that screaming got things done, and that was the last thing I wanted. And so I became the bad Mom, the one who refused to budge. The one who got screamed at. The one whose patience got tested over and over and over again.
Which is why yesterday, when my sister and I performed our Deuta’s song at the Bihu function organised by Assam Association Singapore, I had to leave Miss Munchkin behind because I was scared (yes, scared) that she would have a meltdown and I wouldn’t be able to handle her. I felt my lowest. My first duet with my sister after ages, and my mind was drifting to my bundle of tantrums refusing to be put down for her bedtime. When we came back home yesterday night, Jenny was in the living room, with Miss Munchkin asleep on her shoulder. Having decided that I would give in, just for once, I rocked her to sleep yet again, despite a stiff back. I told myself I would, for once, not let the whining turn into a screaming match.
And just like the clouds parting after the rain, she woke up smiling for the first time in ten days. We went out for lunch with my sister and her family, she played happily in the sand with her cousin, took a nap with him too, and we came back home much later in the evening. I know today might have been just a fluke, and come tomorrow I might have to manhandle her into wearing her uniform yet again, but at least I have today. We’ll take tomorrow by the horns if we have to.
P.S. I really hope I don’t have to. I mean, I love my daughter to the moon and back but boy does she make me want to pull my own hair out sometimes.