To the Mother Who Sent Only Cards to the Valentine’s Day Party

So, last night, as my child slumbered off an upset tummy, I picked up her backpack and began to unpack the bounty. In case you’ve forgotten, yesterday was Valentine’s Day and my girl had her first preschool Valentine’s Day party. Of course, she picked out and we bought the cute little My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic sticker-cards for her friends and I helped her sign her name to them, because the note from school had said that students would be giving Valentines to each other. However, as I sat and unpacked three large paper bags/envelopes, I felt my little hobbit-mommy heart sink a little.

There were gifts attached to almost every card.

One card came with a toy car and proclaimed “I “wheelie” like you”.

One card came with a twist-off-top Kool-aid bottle, with its card declaring, “Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s a “squeeze” for you!”

And on and on it continued. Cute little gift bags, school supplies emblazoned with “You rule!”on them.

By the time I was done, I was wishing every Pinterest-y mother at the bottom of the deepest oceanic trench. All my girl had given were MLP sticker-cards. No gifts. No treats. Nothing cutely punny. Had I dropped the ball or what?

Quietly, I put everything back into the bags and stacked them on the couch so my daughter could open them with Grandma and Grandpa the next day, feeling all of my mere 61 inches tall. Thankfully, I suppose, the aforementioned upset tummy didn’t give me much time to wallow in self-pity. I did end up feeling badly for wishing doom and gloom on these parents who had obviously taken and put much time and thought into would make their children’s little friends smile, for which I am very grateful. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling of ‘less’. It lingered all through the rest of the night, aided by weariness and lack of rest thanks to her throwing-up-every-half-hour-to-keep-time.

It’s not just “less”. It’s a feeling of “not enough”. Not creative enough. Not involved enough. Not aware enough. Not available enough.

And it sucks. (Yeah, I’m self-pitying just a bit. It’s part of the journey.)

I know comparison is a spirit-killer and I don’t want that. I also know that my girl had fun, which is splendid. Maybe her body waited until she got home to be sick because, deep down, she knew that Mommy would take care of her. Make everything as better as she could. I don’t know. I don’t know for sure, but I hope that my love, the fact that I would do whatever I can and need to for her is known down in her blood and bone, as true as her heart that beats.

I’m not a Pinterest mom. I’m not an artist or a party designer. I don’t know the perfect gift for the perfect occasion. But I do know that I love my daughter. I do know that I want to teach her the joy of loving on others. And I hope that, maybe, yesterday was a good starting lesson in that. I hope her sticker-cards made some child smile when she handed them one.

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When Mommy’s Big Feelings Break Out

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The picture above is from a year ago. This was the caption I posted with it on IG: “My girl showing her poor addled, short-tempered mommy some sweet grace and comfort.” #empathy #kindness #toddlersweet #grace #graceforthemoment#littlehands

A year to the day, I need this picture because, last night, I was addled and short-tempered again. Last night, I yelled at my daughter when she came out of her bedroom for the 7th or 8th time since I had put her to bed an hour before. She cried; she tearfully proclaimed that I wasn’t nice to her. My heart broke. I apologized. I asked her forgiveness for letting my big feelings break out on her. I tucked her back in with teary kisses and lots of I love you’s. She calmed and sighed and gave me sleepy I love you’s in return. I cried. I cried. I got the house settled for the night. I went to bed, squeezed a favorite stuffy, and cried until I fell asleep.

I know that ‘nice’ isn’t the same as ‘good’. I know that I am not and will never be perfect. I also know that I need this memory and its reminder today, of the grace that my girl has shown me when my emotion is anathema to my gentleness. I am glad that chances aren’t final. I am glad that I can try again today. I love my girl and her forgiving grace, and I want to learn from it. I want to be like my daughter with her sweet, “It’s okay, Mommy. You made a mistake. I love you.”

I have dear ones who have given me marvelous encouragement and loving reminders today, and I am thankful beyond words for them. As I teach and grade and think today, I’m slowly living out that ear-worm of a Daniel Tiger song, “It’s okay to feel sad sometimes. Little by little, you’ll feel better again.” And I look forward to seeing my daughter’s smiling face and her exuberant, “Mommy!!” when I pick her up from preschool this afternoon.

Running On Ahead

Today was the day. That day. That first day. Today was my girl’s first day at daycare. And tomorrow will her first day of preschool. Her first day(s) in the care of someone not a parent or grandparent.

Only a week and a half ago, I accepted a very last-minute position and, in a positive gale of13872934_10153805997603133_477313044703904389_n change, have returned to teaching this year. This was not what I had planned for, not what I had settled on, and so it has been quite a tumultuous time. One of the most difficult parts for me, however, has been the realization and reality that I would not be able to be there for her first day of school. I will not be there to hold her little hand and walk her to her class. I will not be there to see her face light up with excitement or grow sober with apprehension. I will not be there to hug her close, stroke my finger down her pert little nose, tell her I love her, and remind her to have courage and be kind.

And that hurt. It hurt a lot. For an entire week, I cried every time I thought about it, every time someone mentioned it. I still get a little burn in my chest where my heart aches at the missing. I have always been with her; these are the first “firsts” that I will miss. It’s too soon. It’s happening too fast. I know that she’s excited, that she loved her first day at daycare, and had a great one according to her teachers, and that makes me happy for my girl. But, at the same time, it’s like she’s slipping away through my fingers. She’s pulling away and running ahead and I am so far from ready.

I miss our routine. I miss mornings with her cuddled in my arms in the big bed when it’s rainy and dark and we are both still sleepy. I miss walking in the sunshine with her or helping my fearless, spiky girl place her feet properly as she climbs up the playground ladders. I miss watching her jog through the mall, waving at strangers with a smile and a “Hi!” I miss our quiet times at home, her with her Kindle and me with my book or my writing.

13876688_10153805997673133_8663280121382326193_nIt’s all happening so fast. Too fast. I knew that this was coming. Eventually. But I hadn’t looked for it to be now, to be immediate. I had thought I’d be there to  help her transition to part-time preschool. Instead, I tiptoe from the house before she’s awake and won’t see her now until I pick her up at the end of the day. I can only hope and pray to be greeted by a big smile and lovingly enthusiastic “Mommy!” every evening. That’s why I am doing this. For her. For our family. Not for me. For them.

Tonight, as she splashed and played in her bath, all my heart could do was cry out, “Slow down!” And the song below came to mind, as tears likewise sprang to my eyes and trickled down my cheeks.

I want you to grow, my love. I do. Just…don’t do it too terribly quickly. Please? Don’t pull away just yet. Could you slow down, just a bit?

Reflections on Thirty-Three

Cross-posted on my blog MWGS:

Author’s Note: Today, I turn 33 years old. It has definitely been an interesting three and a half years since my daughter was born and life changed in a big way. I think that I have learned more about myself in these few short years than in many others combined throughout my lifetime. I see myself differently, am taking better care of myself, am learning to love others better, and live my faith and purpose more honestly and, I hope, effectively. I do more than like myself at 33. I truly believe that I have finally learned to love myself.

= = = =

My form is a thing of beauty.

Take all your definitions of allure

And weigh them in your hands,

As I make mine my own.

Breasts, waist, hips, legs,

Arms, stomach, shoulders, back.

All I work to make strong.

This I do for myself,

For the good of my body as well as my soul.

To be strong enough in body to hold the skies on my shoulders

But soft enough in soul to hold joy in the sway of my hips

And grace in the reach of my hands.

My mind is a work of art.

Growing and challenged still,

Deeply considering and intense.

My intelligence has not been silenced by time,

But continues to grow and refine with new challenges.

My art is a meeting of thought and feeling,

Pulled together, chiseled, and shaped.

I share my art with a desire for hope,

Encouragement, uplifting, and joy.

I write to challenge to love, to kindness, to compassion.

I write to create refuge, worlds in which to escape,

To send out words that my own voice might find difficult to speak.

I sing to birth joy. I dance to proclaim free. I dress to cry beauty.

I write and post and mail to connect and pull threads together.

In life. In community. In love. In friendship. In chosen family.

I am a being made unqiue and becoming uniquer still.

The older I get, the finer I am becoming.

You should rejoice. I’d love for you to rejoice.

If you don’t, though, that’s your choice.

But, most of all, I just want you to smile with me.

Those Pathetic Days

One afternoon, as my daughter nested on her bedroom floor with her stuffies and her tablet, I laid myself down next to her and requested, “Can I lie down next to you?”

I must have sounded like the most pathetic creature to ever live and, truthfully, I felt it to be so. I felt weary-worn in body and soul and literally pathetic in every synonymous sense of the word. There are days when mothering is unspeakably tough, and this week has been a collection those days. From temper tantrums to busy days (which my girl dearly didn’t want to participate in) to ballet class and early morning stomach bugs, this has been quite a week. I’m tired, worn, and, honestly, wilting a bit. I have rarely felt less equal to the task of raising my daughter than I have this week. My eyes are weak from lack of sleep and too many tears. The things that give me joy (reading, writing, working out, etc.) I have often been too tired to fully enjoy, but I am still doing my best to keep up with them because they are my soul food.

This weekend is Valentine’s Day. I’m not looking for flowers or chocolate or a fancy dinner out. All I want is some time with my husband and some time to myself to center down and ground myself before the week starts all over again.