He was too happy. And happy was not an option tonight. I was much too busy feeling sorry for myself to be happy.
Unfortunately, two-year olds don't understand self-pity.
I didn't want to be mad at Ian; it wasn't his fault that my mom decided to pick today to start "teaching me a lesson in responsibility." Since my mom wasn't around, my annoyance rested on Ian.
I looked at the clock for the umpteenth time. Ten thirty. Ian should be in bed and I should be at the club, celebrating New Year's Eve with my friends. I was only twenty-one, after all. There was no way I was going to miss out on my youth just because I had a baby at nineteen. I was determined to keep my own identity and not end up as one of those miscellaneous moms dressed in frumpy clothes, a baby attached to her hip, spending her days wiping snotty noses and tripping over piles of toys. Motherhood did not need to affect my whole life!
Mom had always been more than willing to take Ian so I could get out and away from the demands of my motherly duties and just be a kid. But I suspected she was being brainwashed by some of those ladies at her church because she suddenly refused to help me out. "You're a mother now. It's time you started being responsible," she said.
I narrowed my eyes at my son, who sat gleefully in his high chair playing with a bowl full of spaghetti. Orange mouth, orange cheeks, orange hair…he looked like a pumpkin.
I sighed and tried to forget about the fact that it was now eleven o'clock. "So, Ian, do you want to throw some confetti with me at midnight?" I asked unenthusiastically.
Ian's eyes lit up within his jack-o-lantern face and he picked up a fistful of spaghetti and threw it at me. Sauce splattered across my face and left noodles dangling from my ears. "Ugh! I said confetti, Ian! Not spaghetti!"
Ian's belly laugh followed me as I marched to the sink to wash up, my irritation growing by the second.
I ran a bath for Ian and plopped him down in the water, rinsing the spaghetti sauce from his hair.
I whined and moaned my frustrations to my toddler who responded with broken sentences and pieces of words I couldn't understand. I complained about my mother and how she was being so selfish. I accused her of not loving me, of punishing me for having a baby at nineteen. And every couple minutes I looked up at the clock, wishing I were anywhere but here.
"It's almost midnight, Ian. I could really use some bubbly right now, you know that?" I asked as if he cared.
And Ian granted my request. But the bubbles he delivered weren't exactly the ones I wanted. I rolled my eyes and Ian looked down at the water and giggled. I'm not sure what he found funny - the bubbles themselves or the sound they made.
The epiphany hit me then, as suddenly as the spaghetti had earlier. It was like a bubble of my own appeared over my head with "ah-ha!" written in it. My son didn't care about my problems. The only thing he cared about right now was having fun. And at the moment, that fun consisted of popping fart bubbles as they rose to the surface of the water.
And then I threw my head back and laughed. My outburst startled Ian almost as much as it surprised me. I realized my mother wasn't the selfish one - I was. My life would not end because I missed a New Year's Eve with my friends. The truth was, motherhood did affect my entire life and the sooner I accepted that, the happier my life would be.
I looked at the clock one last time to see it ticking closer to midnight. But this time, I wasn't thinking about my friends.
"C-mon, Ian! It's almost midnight! Let's go watch the ball drop!" I whisked Ian out of the tub and we made it to the television set with two minutes to spare.
I grabbed the bowl of cold spaghetti from the table. "When I say, 'now', throw this, OK?"
I would worry about the mess later. Right now I decided to simply have fun with my kid. After all, as my mom loved to point out, I still was one myself.
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