Out of the Mouths of Babes, So It Goes

The past month and a half has been full of words, songs, laughs, screams, changes, and growth. Elizabeth has developed by leaps and bounds, her words coalescing into sentences, babbles into song lyrics. She loves to learn and play and show off what she has learned. She memorizes songs and her favorite cartoons, acts out her favorite scenes and made-up scenarios, plays enthusiastically and reports everything on the world around her, just in awe and utterly delighted with the world she is discovering. Her big thing this season has been discovering that season change. Fall is often the most obvious and blazingly glorious of seasonal changes and with it has brought exclamations and examinations and just sheer squealing delight as God has repainted the canvas of Elizabeth’s world before her very eyes. And she changes right along with it.

A few Sundays ago, during her grandmother’s visit, she gave us all a delightful surprise. As people gathered in for morning worship service, milling and visiting together, Elizabeth made her way up onto the platform, found the cordless microphone on the side of the pulpit, and picked it up. She then treated everyone gathered in for service so far to an impromptu performance of her favorite song: “Jesus Loves Me”. When she picked up the mic, I had started towards her to help her put it down. But she started singing — our family song, one that is always requested and sung together at bedtime every night, just as it was in my childhood — and I froze. I just stood there and let my child, my girl of barely three, minister to those gathered in the meeting house. And she did. She did minister to them. No prompting from me or Ben, no guidance, no cajoling even, really. Just some encouragement from those listening. I just stood there, holding her blankies and Lambie (her dearest friends) and watched God speak through my toddler.

She sang through the song twice and then, in true Elizabeth fashion, bowed and said, “Thank you! Thank you!” My dear little ham.

I’m tearing up as I write this two weeks later. I had intended to write it sooner, don’t know why I didn’t. But here I am writing it now. And it’s hitting me like a hammer. No offense to my wonderful husband, who happens to be the pastor, but our daughter probably spoke the most poignant words in that entire service in her little toddler voice. In the Quaker church, we believe that each and every person has the capacity to minister, has a personal ministry even. My daughter was a minister that day with the most important of messages on her little tongue.

She reminded us all, no matter our age, that we are loved. Even when others reject us, even when life is hard, when days are grey and cold, and our road bleak with despair creeping up on its edges. Or even when we are just having a difficult day or being difficult ourselves. We are loved by God. Completely and utterly and eternally. You. Me. All of us. We are loved.

Thank you, Elizabeth. Can’t wait to hear more.

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That Mom? That’s Me.

Today, not half an hour ago, I was that mom.

I was the mom who walked into the gas station Subway with a crying toddler, who was angry because we were there instead of on a walk.

I was the mom with the toddler trying to stealthily sneak off because she believed that we didn’t need dinner and wanted to leave the Subway.

I was the mom with the toddler throwing her Lambie around because she was angry that I wanted her to stick with me.

I was the mom with the toddler who gave a scream and went prone on the floor in the middle of the checkout line, right when it was time for us to move forward for our turn.

I was the mom who stepped over her prone toddler to pay for the aforementioned sandwiches for dinner.

I was the mom who, but for the grace and integrity of the hoodie that I was grasping, would have had a toddler who planked herself face first into the asphalt.

I was the mom with the toddler who tried to stalk off through the parking lot, proclaiming she was “going walk”.

I was the mom with the red face. I was the mom with tears threatening. I was the mom trying staunchly to disbelieve that there are other people in the world, much less other people occupying the same commercial space as I was in those moments.

I am the mom with cranky tears still threatening and a mug of room temperature vanilla chai that I never got to enjoy.

I am the mom who, at this very moment, is catching her toddler throwing chips and, probably soon her sandwich as well, out of her high chair and onto the floor.

So, in all honesty today, this is for me. If you get something out of it, great. Really, though, this is for me. But thanks for not judging me.

DISCLAIMER: The linked article below is NOT mine but was posted at Stuff Moms Say.

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Click me to go to the article.

Dear Teacher: Let My Child Fail.

I was nodding the whole way through this as a mom. As a teacher, I am not sure how such an app would work but I adopted a wonderful phrase from my mother-in-law (who was also a teacher) when I started teaching full time:

“I respect your right to fail.”

Kids will not succeed or be great at everything in life; they will fail. I will not always swoop in and save Elizabeth from failure. I rather refuse to, honestly. I want help her to learn from her failures, as well as her successes.

Chop Wood, Carry Water

Two nights ago my 7 year old was begging me  to check her backpack for a super important piece of paper.

The paper was detailed instructions on how to sign up for an app, including a code to add my specific child once I did.

I am all about apps. I am all about technology in general. Anything to make things faster, easier, with less paper waste and clip art- I am all in.

But this specific app struck me as strange.

“You can see how I’m doing all throughout the day mommy!” the 7 year old squealed. And sure enough, I could.

I could see how many times she spoke Spanish during the day, how often she completed her work on time, and even how many times she got off task during any given day. (She is my child so there were definitely some bright red “off task” indicators…

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See Me and Delight In Me

Cross-posted on my writing blog http://awriterbecoming.com.

For our wedding anniversary this year, the only gift I requested from my husband was as set of coloring books and crayons of my own, separate from those that belong to my toddler daughter. What? I like coloring. Of course, he came through with coloring books of Disney Princesses and My Little Pony (yay!), but I beefed up my coloring book collection the other day with some of the new wildly-popular coloring books for adults. The one I worked on last night for my winding-down time was one of floral mosaics. I wanted something simple so I chose a picture of daisies and settled in quite happily with a colored pencil in one hand and an apple in the other. Even as I finished the stems and started working on the flowers’ yellow hearts, I felt this sudden urge to leap up from my chair at the kitchen table and run into the living room crying, “Mom! Mom! Look, look!”

That hit me hard. Even at thirty-two, I still long for my mother to see me and find beauty in me and what I do. I was over the moon when she commented that I had indeed lost a few inches. All those months of work and she noticed! When she compliments my mothering, I am chuffed for days. My mother is my hero and I want her to be proud of her girl. (I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve been singing Aladdin’s “Proud of Your Boy” more often lately.)

Then I realized that is all Elizabeth wants from me, too: to be seen, to be enjoyed, for me to be proud of  my girl. Her new trick is to come up to you with something behind her back.

“Please (close) eyes,” she asks.

You cover your eyes.

“1-2-3. Eeprise (surprise)!” And she shows you what is behind her back.

Your role is to be elated, tell her it’s wonderful, and give her a hug.

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My mom and my girl

I have lost count of just how many times we have done this over the past few days. Last night, though, I was very tired and refused to participate a few times (or at best was rather lackluster about it). My mom played along enthusiastically every single time. I am sorry that I didn’t. Elizabeth wants, needs, me to joy in her and in all she is learning to do. I want her to know that I do joy in her and I am proud of her.

One of her favorite movies is “Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch”. At the end of the film, the whole ohana is dancing Lilo’s hula together and she and Stitch hug each other. Then Nani comes over and tells Lilo, “Mom would be so proud of you.” At that point in the film, Elizabeth always runs to me for the hug and I amend the line and tell her, “I am so proud of you.” And I am. I will always be. When she is thirty-two, I want her to want to run to me, show me what she has accomplished or created, and know without a doubt that I will be elated for and with her.

“Mom, Mom! Look!”

“That is wonderful, my love! I am so proud of you!”

Chasing Butterflies

Today, I watched as my daughter gleefully ran after a golden butterfly. Every time it fluttered away when she got close, she would squeal, “No, fly-fly, no! No, fly-fly, no!” We told her not to step on the butterfly when she got close, to be very still and just to look at it. But it was ridiculously fun to watch her.

In Case You Wonder If They Hear You…

This past Sunday, we sang “Jesus Loves Me” during the singing part of our worship service. Later on, one of the ladies commented that when we sang that song, it made her so happy to see Elizabeth’s face just light up with recognition (Elizabeth was sitting with her and her daughters). It was like Elizabeth was saying “I know that song!” and she just smiled so big, and it was nice to see that, the woman said. I piped up and said that she has heard that song since the day she was born and it was my lullaby as a child, too.

I find that I rather wish that I had kept silent and just enjoyed it, but it was wonderful to hear that what we do with Elizabeth, even at this age, is absorbed and actually noticed. ❤

When You Go Toe to Toe

OK, so Mommy pride moment.

I just had an epic clash of wills with Elizabeth over something simple that I asked her to do (put a package of Christmas hooks that she took out back in the drawer where she found them), and I am proud to say that I stood fast and endured the storm patiently and without emotional explosion (I left that to her). I repeated the request several times, informing her that she needed to do as Mommy asked and that she wasn’t allowed to leave her room until she did. She cried and kicked and threw herself on the floor, rendered herself a screaming, snotty mess. The blatant screaming in my face DID garner her bottom a quick swat, though; that consequence is nothing new to us. I repeated the request until she finally, FINALLY (though begrudgingly) picked up the package, put it back in the drawer, and closed the drawer (though I suspect it was me stating the fact that she was going to miss ALL of her cartoons while this went on that finally tipped the scale with her). Thus released from her room, she ran out into the living room in a huff, without even Lambie. So I took her Lambie, her blankie, and a paci, wiped her snotty nose and hands, gave her a kiss, told her I love her, and then left her to collect her composure, as she usually wants you to do.

I went back into her room to work on the church’s blog for today and, a few minutes later, she came in with all her comforting accoutrement and tried to climb into my lap. I set my laptop aside and picked her up for cuddles. I told her that I love her, I am not angry with her, but that she needs to be a helper and do as Mommy asks her to do. Throwing a fit and screaming and being unkind is going to have consequences. But, regardless, I am not angry at her and me asking her to do things will not hurt her. We had a bit of snuggle time in the rocking chair, and then she went back out into the living room to watch “Dot” (Doc McStuffins).

Discipline will take time, it will interrupt what I am trying to do, but it is necessary if I wish to accomplish that all-important goal: raising my daughter well.

The Positivity Circle

Today was Mommy-Daughter Day Out. Elizabeth and I had a first-time adventure at our local Children’s Museum (I’ve lived around here for nine years and had never been) and then we went to a sushi restaurant for lunch. My girl LOVES miso soup and fried rice.

As we were leaving the restaurant, an older couple a booth down/opposite from us stopped us to thank me for having such a positive attitude with Elizabeth. Nothing more than that, really. The gentlemen just said, with the biggest smile, that I had such positivity and they appreciated it. I am trying to be more positive and use encouragement reinforcement with Elizabeth, but I guess I didn’t think about what it might look like to other people. Elizabeth was itching to go see the fish in the pond at the front of the restaurant, as I had promised her she could, so I didn’t get to ask the gentleman what he meant, That might have been for the best, though. As it was, I just settled for a big smile, squeezing Elizabeth to me, and saying thank you to him and his wife.

Thank you, sweet folks. Your positivity and kindness made my Mommy-moment and brightened an already bright day.

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Mom Moment: My Joy Today

This afternoon, Elizabeth came up to me with her little gap-toothed and fangy smile (a mixture of her grandfather and father), reached onto the side table, and handed me my pen and a blank notecard. I asked her if she wanted me to write her a letter and she nodded, “Yesh!” (She sees Mommy writing letters and notes all the time.) So I wrote her a little letter and then she sat in my lap while I read it to her. I’m going to put it in her memory box.

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Mother’s Day 2015

 

Fascinating Facets

Cross-posted from my Mom, Writer, Geek, Superwoman blog:

I sit with my daughter in my lap as she indulges in some Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. As she sits quietly (a rare occurrence in and of itself), I take advantage of the opportunity to wrap her lovely pigtail curl around my finger and find myself once again mesmerized as I twirl it again and again and again.

Her hair is soft and glossy and smooth, as soothing as silk as I coil it around my finger. As I do and the curl tightens, I find myself marveling at it. It almost looks like an ombre candy cane, composed of shades of brown sugar and sable, though it is also shot through with bright copper and even honeyed blonde in some spots.

Her hair is smooth like her father’s but also curly like mine naturally is. She gets the shades of brown with red highlights from us both, but the shot of blonde is wholly her father’s, as are her long eyelashes. We deal with the snaggles and tangles and she hates every minute of me combing them out of her hair. When her hair is loose, it is curly and fun and wild; when it is combed into pigtails or a ponytail, it is cute and coquettish. Either way and both, she is brilliantly lovely and I am constantly fascinated by the work of art that is my daughter’s hair. It is beautiful and unique and perfectly suited to her sunshiney, smiling face.

I dream of what that hair will be like someday, falling over Elizabeth’s shoulders in abundant, glossy curls that bounce, the most superlative physical complement to my girl’s own buoyant spirit.

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