by Ocieanna Fleiss
“Ah!” I screeched, surprised by four-year-old Abigail’s chubby cheeks and big brown eyes peering at me inches from my face. I’d just awoken from a nap on the couch. Before my bleary eyes could focus, she (unfazed by my squeal) slinked under the afghan and snuggled next to me.
Later, in the kitchen, I yelped again when I turned around and she was lurking next to the backs of my legs. I almost stomped on her little piggies. “Hi, Mama! Ha ha ha!” Her sugary voice giggled at her funny (to her) joke of startling me. Then every time I started getting back to making dinner, she’d trick me again. Finally, a tad (maybe a bit more) frustrated by the constant distractions, I shooed her from the kitchen.
“Just sit at the table, Sweetie. I’ll still be right here.” But it wasn’t enough. She needed to be close to me—super close! Tears and whining commenced, along with stomping feet and an angry face.
Believe me, I adore my sweet girl. I love her giggle, her yummy hugs, the way she takes care of her “daughters” (her family of dolls—all girls, of course). But the thing is, people, I have a lot to do! I must plan dinner, clean the house, do the never-ending, insurmountable pile of laundry … you know the list.
I’m also a work-at-home mom, so there are phone calls, e-mails, writing books, blogs, and articles, planning to teach classes and MOPS meetings. These are very important, don’t you think? I can’t just stop and snuggle.
So after I put dinner in the oven, I stealthily snuck upstairs to finish a bit of work. I just needed a few minutes to write and transmit an e-mail. Just a few minutes. But, locating my whereabouts, she soon appeared next to my desk. After sending her out at least five times, I finally snapped. “Abigail! Go downstairs. I have to get this done!”
Her eyes showed surprise that her dear mama would be mean to her. In a soft, sad voice she said, “I just wanted to be with you.” Her chunky cheeks fell and a frown overtook her normally smiling lips as she slouched out.
I really had to get that done, I told myself, seeking to justify my harshness. But then later, in a more compassionate moment, I thought about her words.
“I just wanted to be with you.”
A few months ago, I had a cardiac arrest. My heart stopped beating—twice actually—and my husband gave me CPR. He and the EMTs brought me back to life. When I was in the hospital, no one was sure I’d survive. And my precious Abigail didn’t know if she’d have her dear mama anymore. Thinking about it I realized, that’s when the clinginess started. So I understand why she wants to be with me, near me. And I can give my little stalker a pass, and a smile, and a hug, and more hugs.
So yes, I created a sign to hang on my doorknob. It says, “Mama’s Working—I love you!” because I do need to protect those productive hours. But any chance I can, I also welcome her interruptions—even when she startles me awake from a nap. I’d miss too much if I didn’t.