Autumn recently added a new word to her vocabulary. It arrived without warning after requesting a piece of candy.
“Now!” she said.
I asked her where she learned such a word, and was stunned at her reply:
“Mommy,” she said.
It wasn’t my proudest moment. I began wondering when I would’ve demanded immediacy from her. As a rule, we weren’t rushing out the door late for appointments. So I reasoned it stemmed from my daily attitude.
“Live with a sense of urgency,” I tell myself, scoffing when others say there’s no rush. Life is fleeting and unpredictable, so I want it done now, whether it’s having the new furniture built or the baby book completed. My thinking was affecting Autumn. She wanted the candy now. Later we might forget or the jar may not be as accessible. So I consider many factors in my decision making. Is it morning? What has she eaten already? Is a party on the day’s agenda? And I deliver my ruling. Sometimes, I say:
“You can have one.”
“One,” she agrees, holding up her finger and nodding.
Other times, I say:
“Later,” and provide an explanation. Usually it’s you’ve already had a piece or you’re going to have dinner in five minutes or something else very sensible to 45-year old me. But two-year-old Autumn doesn’t agree, and I understand. She begins to protest, and I unearth a response I’ve tucked away during slapdash skims through parenting Instagrams for just such occasions:
“I know. It’s disappointing when we can’t have what we want.”
She expresses her frustration for less than a minute more, and pivots quickly to dancing. The music is playing, and she cannot resist Baby Shark. Once again, I witness her bopping around, rhyming the words, the idea of candy dissolving just as fast as it arrived.
I think about what I want now, but cannot have, some of which are impossible asks, and others with potential – more money in my bank account and more time with my daughter, guarantees I’m making good choices and all my stuff neat and tidy. I obsess daily over to-do lists, become exhausted with attempts to make it all happen, and when I’m drained, I pass out to recharge and do it all again. I equate my daughter’s wanting M & Ms, specifically blue ones, of monumental importance to her just as my yearnings are to me. Neither of us is granted instant gratification, but we handle our realities differently. I suck myself dry, but Autumn? She pouts, gets up, moves on.
They call twos terrible, and even though I’m only a few days in, I have a different opinion so far.
“She’s so much cooler than I’ve ever been,” I tell my mom. She doesn’t finish her cake when she’s no longer hungry and is too occupied with what she already has to open gifts. And she so easily lets go of disappointment.
I’ve had 45 years to establish thoughts about the number two, and to realize that there’s an incredible variety in its meaning. Two hot fudge sundaes is too much, but two Skittles, too little. Missing the plane by two minutes, darn, but phew when two minutes early. And from 43 years to 45? Whatever. But 0-2…from a tiny nothing, to someone wiser beyond my years. And the more I think about it, the prouder I become of her wanting, and ensuing resilience when not appeased. She also complies well to my one, small ask.
“Now, please,” she says these days.
I sometimes reminisce about journeying through life as one. I miss Sunday morning yoga and the freedom to plan my days. In many instances, going solo reigns supreme – there’s never arguments or second opinions. But then I decide that if I get Autumn as my plus one, I’m happy we are two.