I had collapsed on the couch, and wrapped myself up in the old blue fleece blanket that I’ve had since college. I sipped my still-hot chai, remembered how I literally almost cried at the ordinary kindness and smile of my Starbucks barista (his name was Chad, and he smiled just right during my very long day), and breathed long and quiet.
Ellie was (finally) asleep.
The first thought that crossed my mind was, “what if tomorrow is like today?”.
The second, coming just on the exhausted heels of the first, was “what if it isn’t?”.
We were almost asleep last night, after a weekend that spilled over with all sorts of joy and rest, with Masters watching and lazy mornings and lots of friends. Ellie wasn’t quite right all weekend, but her schedule was “off” as it often is on the weekends, and she settled to sleep reasonably a few hours before we climbed into our own bed.
Then she started to whimper, and then to wail, and then 5 minutes turned to 10 turned to 45 turned to desperate looks and phone calls to the nurse, who said we might want to start thinking about the ER if she didn’t calm down soon.
We pumped her full of Motrin and begged desperately for her to stop screaming.
You never feel quite so inadequate as you do when you have an absolutely hysterical baby in the middle of the night.
It’s hard to explain, how screaming isn’t just screaming. It’s not the same as hearing a baby yell at the grocery store, or seeing a tantrum at a restaurant - it gets under your skin and crawls all the way into your battered, beating heart. It’s like getting the bad kind of goosebumps and a brain freeze and an eyes-burning lump in your throat and a panic attack all at once, when your child is screaming, writhing in pain and you don’t know what it is and you have no way to stop it.
And then, in the midst of your thunderstorm of anxiety and fear and frustration, you remember that even though there’s absolutely nothing you can do, there’s someone who can always fix it.
And his name is Daniel Tiger.
Praise Jesus for Daniel Tiger, and for guided access on iPhones, and the Netflix app, and pack-n-plays that can fit right next to your bed, so that you can put the screaming baby and the phone and a blanket in one place, and you can be your selfish, weak and tired self and go to sleep while your baby watches hours of Daniel Tiger.
God’s mercy reveals itself in so many ways. Sometimes we need prayer, sometimes we need patience, and sometimes we need Daniel Tiger.
Thankfully, this story moves forward to when I stumbled bleary-eyed into the pediatrician’s office this afternoon, and I waited in the tiny little room with my rambunctious little toddler whose new favorite game is “headbang all the things” ran around head-butting every surface in what I’m sure was an exceptionally clean exam room. And then the doctor came in, did all of his things, and pronounced that our girl was just fine, that it’s probably her pre-molars coming in and I looked at him with all the longing my almost-asleep eyes could muster and begged him for a real answer, hoping that just maybe last night’s outrageous display of hysterics could be cured with a pill or a potion or anything really. But the real answer wasn’t quite that satisfying, and I walked next door and bought Ellie some farm animal hand puppets, and we both came home and collapsed.
Price walked in the door a few hours later with my favorite takeout soup, and I started to toast some bread, and our sweet little girl proceeded to almost immediately have the biggest blow out she’s ever had in her life. Like, poop-in-her-hair. Price, who has perfected the dad-to-the-rescue sprint across the apartment swiftly picked her up and landed her in the bathtub in an almost breathless motion, grabbing all the toys drying in the tub and flinging them across the room with abandon (where, we would discover later, about half of them landed in the toilet, because that’s just how today is). I raced behind, too tired to laugh but smiling just the same.
We spent a good 25 minutes scrubbing her down in the tub before finally tucking her into bed and falling down on the couch where I ate a really significant amount of gelato and Price is two beers in. And my nose is bleeding, which it hasn’t done in years … so today only has about 3 hours left in it, and I hope it is miraculously uneventful.
And so this is life these days. Late night hysterics, bottles of motrin, gallons of coffee and gelato, blowouts, nose bleeds and pre-molars and takeout and a sink piled high with dirty dishes. It is tired eyes and feeling so torn about working and mom-ing and wife-ing and me-ing that I literally feel ripped into two or three pieces every single day, and the few hours sleep that I get each night is not enough to knit me back together again.
And every day I wonder the same thing. “What if tomorrow is like today?”
But here’s the rub. Tomorrow won’t be like today. Tomorrow my chubby baby girl, my whip-smart and silly toddler, will walk a little steadier. “Thank you” will sound more like “thank you” and less like “na-nu.” The cow will be the only one that says “moo” instead of the cow and the horse and the pig and the sheep all saying “mahhhhhh.”
She will cuddle even less, she will climb even more. She may - or may not - realize that the blender isn’t making music and she won’t dance at every commercial music bed. She’ll change.
Tomorrow won’t be like today. It will be new and different and come all too soon. It will have its own versions of blow outs and midnight shenanigans. And I’ll look back on today and laugh until I cry, about the day I took off work because I was so worried about my sweet girl, but it was okay because I cleared my calendar to be present with her, because there’s nothing else in the whole wide world that matters nearly as much, and no one can help her like I can.
Except, of course, for Daniel Tiger.
Guster, I Hope Tomorrow is Like Today
I'm awake, you're still sleeping
The sun will rise like yesterday
Everything that we are now
Is everything we can't let go
Or its gone forever, far away
I hope tomorrow is like today
Don't you go away tomorrow
I don't think I could handle that
You're probably dreaming that you're flying on
Then you start to fall
But then you rise
and shine forever
Don't go away
I hope tomorrow is like today