If I haven’t been by to visit your blog or have neglected to respond to your e-mail, I am sorry. I’ve started to fall behind again. The number of unread posts in my Bloglines is reaching infinity. They’ve run out of numbers to count them. Now, it’s just a symbol. Or maybe I just can’t see very well. Because I’m dealing with stuff like this:

Painting the piano red.

Do you see that up there? Julia colored the keys on our piano. Red. Every.single.key. Sure, it’ll come off. It isn’t the clean-up that’s the issue. It’s the message this Crayola graffiti is sending, which is, “Fuck you, you stupidhead Mother. I don’t like you very much anymore.”

I’ve fallen out of favor with my girl. She has declared that she likes Daddy better than me. (It isn’t all roses for him either, though. Grandma blows us both out of the water.)

She has begun second-guessing everything I say.

I tell her, “Julia, you can’t have a popsicle.”

So, she goes to ask Daddy. When Daddy wisely advises her, “What your Mother says goes,” she shifts her tactic. She demands a popsicle. She stages a sit-in at the refrigerator.

Finally, I say, “Julia, you cannot have a popsicle because we are out of popsicles.”

And she says, “Open up the freezer and SHOW ME that we are out of popsicles.”

I am offended that she would suggest that I’m lying.

At playgroup today, we were celebrating a birthday. There were cupcakes. When it was time to go, the kids were getting baggies of apple slices to eat on the way home. Julia asked for another cupcake. I said, “No. You’ve had enough cupcakes.”

So, she went and asked one of the other mothers. Thankfully, the other mother told her she needed to check with me.

Again, I told her no. So, she proceeded to throw the most ridiculous and embarrassing temper tantrum of all time.

Why? Because Julia is kind of a jerk right now.

I don’t know what she’s going through, but she’s not very nice. Or fun. Or nice. Yeah, she’s not very nice at all.

And I’m just tired. Oh, so tired. And I’m short-tempered.

Just the other day, as I was reprimanding her for the doing the very thing I had told her not to do three times, she said, “I just don’t know how to make you happy, Mommy.”

Suddenly, I saw a flash of her, in twenty years, sitting in a therapist’s office crying and saying she’s never been able to please me. And then the therapist says, “Aha!” And it’s in writing and certified by a doctor that I ruined her life.

Mostly, I feel sad. I keep telling myself it’s a phase. That every now and then, she just has to step away from me and it’s easier for her to do when she’s mad at me. I can’t bend the rules just to get her to talk to me. She’s testing the boundaries. I need to show her where they are. A week from now, it’ll all be okay.

But, I miss my girl. She doesn’t want to hear what I have to say or see what I want to show her. She doesn’t even want to kiss me goodnight. I feel like we’re both missing out. And I worry – what if it isn’t a phase? What if we’re just growing apart? What if it isn’t fixed and the baby comes and this rift just gets bigger and bigger?

And so I feel yucky.

And then, when I’m feeling my yuckiest. Dave decides to confess something.

He had gone along with Julia and I to her ballet class on Monday. He sat in the waiting room with the other moms and me. Today, he felt the need to tell me, “You know, you really were right. You sure do talk a lot. You totally dominated the conversation at ballet. If there was even a second of silence, you filled it. You had something to say about everything. And you always got the last word. You really do talk. A LOT.”

Man, today sucks.

But hey, tomorrow will be better. And I’ll be around to visit your blogs. And I’ll get to those e-mails. I promise.