What started off as one of the most sleepless nights I've ever had turned out to be the most precious mother-daughter moment I could have ever imagined...
I have been working with Gianna on giving up her pacifier. She has been a rock star during the day; she quit cold turkey and doesn't even mention "FiFi," despite the fact that she sees one in her little sister's mouth all the time. However, nighttime is a completely different story. Whenever it's "night night time," Gianna totally flips out - flopping, rolling, whining, screaming and crying for her FiFi. This normally mature-for-her-age munchkin reverts back to baby mode until Mommy caves in and hands over the coveted treasure.
Tonight the story didn't have quite the same ending. Earlier today, Gianna was potty training first thing in the morning. Half of the pee pees landed in the potty while the other half landed on the floor along with the infamous FiFi. Great! She had been down to two, but the other one went MIA the other day. "Maybe this is it," I thought to myself. "Maybe this is the night to break her of the FiFi."I was flying solo tonight with my husband working an evening shift and my Mom not being here to help me. Thankfully Natalie went down easily and quickly. Her big sister, however, was not as cooperative. She completely lost her mind over that stinking FiFi! I have never seen her so out of control and distraught! It made me totally regret ever giving her a pacifier! "So this is what everyone who's anti-pacifier was talking about!"
I tried to contain and soothe her in bed with me. Fail! I tried holding her and walking her around the house like I used to whenever she was an infant, Fail! Finally, I took Gianna in her sister's room and rocked her like I did in the good old days (like less than 2 years ago). Success! She fell asleep! I carried her to bed and carried on with my endless list of things to do.
I went in the room to check on her and she was soaked. I had to change her before she leaked onto her bed and I had an even bigger mess on my hands. Mistake! Girlfriend woke up and it was on like popcorn! The wailing, flopping and kicking rapidly picked up where it left off. "That's it!" I put the girls in the car and went for a cruise.
It didn't take long before both girls were in dreamland. In the meantime I asked my husband to pick up a pacifier on his way home from work. I had to get up early in the morning! The girls and I arrived home and the pacifiers were there to greet us, or so I thought. My husband got the wrong size because they were out of the ones for her age. "Oh just great! Let's pray she doesn't wake up!" Less than 5 minutes later she woke up! I quickly scooped her up and took her for another ride, and while it calmed her down, Gianna was wide awake.
We sat up in bed for a while to watch T.V. Then we went to her room. Nothing was working! You see, I was in Mommy mode - you know, when you're in auto-pilot. You're aware of what needs to be accomplished and you do everything in your power to make it happen. Gianna WAS going to go to sleep WITHOUT a pacifier! I'm not gonna let a little rubber and plastic get the best of me! Enough is enough! I put Gianna in her bed and something magical happened...
I looked into my daughter's eyes and could see her pain which made me feel mine too. We looked into each other's eyes and there was this unspoken, mutual understanding as if we were saying, "I know you're hurting, but it's ok. I love you! I'm here for you!" We were both aching terribly, but over different things. Her pain derived from the absence of a pacifier while mine was much more deep-rooted and involved, like all adult problems are. I was holding her hand and she was squeezing it tight. Tears unexpectedly streamed down my cheeks as Gianna looked at me as if she had all the love in the world to take my pain away. I asked, "Gianna, do you want Mommy to hold you?" She instantly said, "Yes Mommy." I scooped her up with the greatest of care and we went in her little sister's room and sat in the rocking chair.
Natalie's room is decked out in Gianna's old nursery décor. Gianna began to look around and stare at the pink and black decals like she used to whenever she was an infant. Her big brown eyes softly gazed into mine as we both cried. With all the tender care she could muster, Gianna grabbed a hand-full of my tank top and proceeded to wipe every little tear off my face. In that moment, every loss I've experienced, every wrong that had been done towards me, every disappointment was wiped away by the unconditional, never-ending love my daughter has for me. It's a love so pure, so authentic, that most mothers miss it in the hustle and bustle of getting laundry done and doing bath time. It is a love that only children can bestow upon you because of their honesty and innocence. It's a love I had almost forgotten exists until that moment.
Some parents would cringe at the fact that I let my daughter see me cry, but I think one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is your vulnerability. That's when the invisible wall comes down and you can just, well you can just BE. No pretending, just be. I had never seen my mother cry until one Christmas she was standing at the kitchen sink and said, "Nikki (My nickname from my middle name Nicole), I'm sorry, but you aren't going to get much for Christmas." Now, I was used to my Dad saying something similar (my parents are divorced), and right about when he had me at the brink of tears, my brother would be ushering in the presents! But not this Christmas. Mom was right and it pained her so that the tears began to fall, and so did mine. We cried together and hugged each other, and it was in that moment that I felt my Mom's love in a way I had never felt before. I realized for the first time ever that I didn't need presents; I needed my Mom. I could tell from the look on Gianna's face and by the way she is sleeping so peacefully beside me right now that she doesn't need a pacifier; she just needs her Mom. <3