While driving The Dormouse to preschool today, we passed the local neighborhood park. (Because the county has screwed up the roads around our neighborhood so badly that I have to go two miles out of my way in an easterly direction in order to go west these days. Don't get me started.) The Dormouse made this observation:

"I remember when I went to that park with daddy and Jennie and Janey [neighborhood kids] and I was in the stroller and you didn't come with us because you were having a baby in your tummy and you were pregnant and you couldn't chase around after me."

I actually remember this incident. It was about five months ago. I think it was the KingOfHearts who used the phrase 'chase around after' as an excuse for why I did not go with them. I'm sure that the real reason I did not go with them was that the park is not a short walk away and I was busy lying comatose on the couch. I'm afraid she's going to turn out like my brother and remember every insignificant or significant incident that ever happened to her from birth on and I will not be able to count on selective memory when she's an adult to convince her that she had a wonderful childhood and terrific parents.

So I said, "Yeah, honey. I'm sorry about that. In a few weeks after your baby sister comes, I will start to feel a whole lot better. Then maybe I'll be able to do some more fun things with my girl."

"You'll be able to go to the park?"

"Yes, hon. It might take me a few weeks after the baby is born to feel better after my surgery, but eventually."

"And you'll go for a walk with me?"


"And sit on the floor?"

"Uh huh."

"And do projects?"


"And play games with me?"

"You bet."

"And you'll have enough breath to read me a story and sing me a goodnight song?"

"Yes, honey, I'll definitely do that."

"I will be veeeerrry glad. When that happens."

I hadn't realized how much of her mother she'd lost as of late. Or how patient, mature and understanding she'd been throughout this entire pregnancy. And the guilt? It burns.

I think, caught up in my own fears and misery, I've failed to appreciate what a sweet, compassionate child I have in The Dormouse. I've not paid enough notice as I'm wincing in pain, trying shift positions on the couch, as she looks up from what she was doing with concern in her eyes and says, "Is the baby kicking you, momma?"

...neglected to take mental note of how she tried to hand me tissues while I was vomiting on the side of the road last week.

...failed to count how many times she spontaneously came to sit by me and tried to rub my back. Sure it lasted for about thirty seconds, but that's about as much attention span as she has for anything.

...yelled as her once too often for stepping on my swollen, puffy, hideously deformed feet by accident.

A few months ago my mother sent us this book to prepare her for the new baby. It addresses the typical stuff kids might worry about or behaviors they exhibit: sibling rivalry, regression, sharing, etc. As we read it to her, I was amazed to find that The Dormouse's head wasn't anywhere close to being in that space. To the question: Will the baby take away from the love I get from mom and dad? The Dormouse assured me that of course mommy and daddy will still love her and we'll all love the baby.

When I got to the section designed to attest to her that she wouldn't have to give the new baby all her toys she said, "But I want to give my baby sister my toys. I will share with her." Then she ran to her room and came back with a handful of toys from her toy chest that she wanted to immediately put aside for the baby.

When we discussed where the new baby would sleep, she insisted that the baby share her room. (Good thing too, because we only have two bedrooms upstairs and otherwise we might have to hang the baby on a hook.)

She came with me to my sonogram appointment last week and couldn't have been more excited to hear the baby's heartbeat and see the baby's picture on the monitor. Even though the "picture of the baby's foot" that the sono-tech pointed out was about as recognizable as a Picasso painting, she was more into it than I. Oh sure, I expect some of that may change when the baby's actually here and reality sets in. But puleeze, could we have any better start on those issues now?

I'm constantly amazed at how much The Dormouse can handle and how great a kid she is. And disappointed with myself for failing to acknowledge that and be grateful. I wish I could believe that I will be at least a little less likely to use the new baby as an excuse for my failures to be a good mother as I have been to use this pregnancy.