For an hour, I lay on the floor in my writing room, berating myself. I can’t let her go to bed like this, thinking I’m mad at her.
I walk upstairs, then down the hall with my tail between my legs. The three of them are on her bed. Riley is reading Amelia Bedelia to Todd and Seth. Crawling in, I lay my head on the pillow next to her, shut my eyes and listen to her tiny voice read all the big words.
We tuck them in. Prayers. I sing Wynkin, Blynkin & Nod.
I'm turning to leave when she says,
“Mommy, I’m a little bit worried.”
“What about?” I ask. Please God don’t let it be me.
“Doctor Kaplan is going to be mad because I screamed on the videotape.” She says from under her covers.
Pulling back her blankets, I crawl in. I tell her we turned the tape off for that part. It’s all okay. Dr. Kaplan will never be mad at her, whether she screams or not.
“Riley, I’m sorry I got so upset with you. Mommy was tired and she lost her patience. I'm not perfect and I get angry, and I makes lots of mistakes. Sometimes I don’t feel like a very good mommy to you.”
She looks up at me with her huge eyes and says, “I think you’re just right.”
After, in the kitchen, I tell Todd about our conversation.
He’s already read my post.
“You don’t have to make up for whatever your father did or was or is.” He says.
“This is our family, and you do an amazing job.”
We sit on the dirty kitchen floor and I cry onto his shoulder.
"Stop beating up on my girl." he says. "I would be done without you."