Tag Archives: mother’s love

The summer of her discontent, or not…

As I sat down tonight to blog (oddly, not about what you’re about to read, so you’re welcome for the topic switch!), I forgot my password, as I do every single time I sit down to my computer for one reason or another. I am completely the reason I cannot have nice things, and it is part of my charm. Sitting at the keyboard, I racked my brain trying to remember what email address I even use for this thing, when I heard footsteps coming down the hall in my direction. Since I am the only one home right now who was not in her assigned bed, I knew it was one of my kiddos. And, to be honest, I wasn’t surprised.

“Hey, you. Go to bed,” I sighed – not looking over my shoulder because everyone knows if you make eye contact with the bed-wanderer, you have to have a conversation with that person that usually ends up with no fewer than 4 sips of water and a 2 snuggle minimum – wondering if I would ever figure out how to get back into this thing.

“Uhm, okay, nevermind…” Aaah, yes. My oldest. I knew it. Forgetting all about passwords and email addresses, I stood and moved to the couch and invited her to sit down with me. Tears threatened to spring forth from her eyes.

“What’s wrong, Lovey?”

Sniffling, the tears came. “I’m so sad summer has to end. We had so much fun…”

Tomorrow is the first day of school for our district, and trust me when I say that my children are very much ready for school to be in session and the routine and craziness that ensues from that. It’s obvious in their behavior and their actions that they need routine like fish need water, and the school year provides routine that summer does not, especially with me also not working a traditional full time schedule. So, they’re all ready. Go to school, kids. It’s time.

What shocked me was the fact that she said she had so much fun this summer. This summer was, thankfully in many ways, one of the most low-key, chill summers we’ve had. For the first time since 2015, I didn’t require any surgeries this year (yet!! lord knows there is time). So, I suppose that’s been a big bonus around here. But, fun? We didn’t do much! We put vacation on hold because we’re surprising them with a big trip in the spring, but we told them that we put it on hold while waiting for their dad’s work schedule to change. This, of course, is not a lie, but it was all they knew as to why vacation had to wait. We didn’t get to Kalahari like we had planned (but we will!) because I worked a ton this summer in my day job, and I ended up doing a lot of writing projects as well. As I rolled through the things we wanted to do and didn’t do in my head when she said, “fun,” I lost sight of what the summer did consist of…

We went to the drive in a couple times to see kids’ movies that they loved. We stayed up too late and caught fireflies. We wanted to get “real TV” and subscribed to DirectTV, so the girls were able to rekindle their love of mindlessly watching television without typing anything into Netflix. We watched a lot of Cartoon Network and got reacquainted with our friends in Teen Titans Go!, along with other shows we’d lost touch with (and I have rekindled my love affair with HGTV). We did a few small road trips but not even all the ones we wanted to! We had a pool up for a while, and then one of the littles replaced the plug with a water bottle cap – which is not effective at plugging a pool – so that wasn’t long lived. But, we also got a splash blob, which is my favorite thing ever. We grew a garden, and they learned about how plants go from seed to table, and they even got to help us harvest things (and still do, since it’s still going!). We celebrated two birthdays! We created outdoor living spaces on our patio and brought the backyard to life. They played in that backyard every single day, some days ALL day, and we had lots of baths that turned the water brown with dirt and smells that only can be recreated in Ohio summers. We did lots of library days and read books and made Lego things and painted  and all of that fun creative jazz. We had a lot of ice cream for dinner, and for other things as well, and ate out more meals in three months than we usually do in a year. We spent more money on little toys and gadgets they wanted than I ever care to admit. We said “yes” a lot more than we said “no,” and I suppose, at the end of the day, that’s what makes the memories that count when you’re small.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows and unbridled happiness, however. We had lots of frustrating moments with raised voices and pounding countertops and slammed doors. Lots of tears over sisterly injustices and parents who “just don’t understand.” Lots of “PLEASE GOD GO TO SCHOOL SO YOU STOP KILLING EACH OTHER” and more than one occasion of one of us girls begging their dad to take us to work with him (usually me). We talked a lot about being grateful for what you have and taking care of those of us in this world who may not have as much as you do. We talked about a lot of big picture world and society issues. And, yes, lots of bedroom cleaning and chores and the things that no one ever wants to do. I tried very hard to get them to learn the importance of pulling their own weight, and how not everything is going to be fair because life is one big unfair bullshit ride a lot of the time, and what is more important is grace and being a team player and gratitude and all of that shit that you say and then you’re like “Yes, I am nailing this parenting thing cuz look at their faces looking at me, nodding and getting this…”

Those moments – the ones that involved lessons learned and some yelling and maybe some tears – are what stand out to me as a parent. The discontent is what sticks out to me, and maybe that’s because I am naturally predisposed to remember negative things and experiences and sort of file away the good for moments when the negative gets to be too much. But, as my blue-eyed, blond-haired, lookin’ more like her momma every day child sat hugging her knees, laughing as I talked to her about how good things need to come to an end and that she wouldn’t want the summer to last forever because it would lose its special magic, it hit me. Kids need time and energy and space to run and roam and to fight with each other and figure things out even when they drive their parents nuts with it all. What I saw as a summer of discontent with all of the things we “didn’t do” was a summer of fun and freedom for the kids, and it was such a fun time that the thought of it ending brought my kiddo to tears…

What the fuck happens to us as adults that just kills our joy?
proof-that-growing-up-is-definitely-a-trap-6

Now, that ^^ is just sad…
(but, I have spent enough time around both children and adults that I don’t doubt it!)

“But I don’t want to be died!”

Oh, out of the mouths of three year old girls during Good Friday mass. My daughter was sitting on my lap on the pew, the smell of fresh air and sunshine wafted up from her little body because we had remembered mass while on a family walk outside and had to cut it short, and she asked me an innocent question about Jesus. Little did I know that this moment would lead to one of the hardest lies I have ever had to tell my little girl.

See, we had briefed the kids on the way over, and we told them that Good Friday mass was more like a funeral. There would be no singing of joy and adoration, not a lot of singing at all really, and people would be sad because this is the day we mourn the crucifixion of Christ on the Cross. So, when we walked into church and sat down, the solemnity a warm, snug fog over the congregation, I didn’t think anything of the conversation from the van. I prayed my usual, “please let my kids be good through this gathering and thank you for leading us here to be with you safely, etc” and sat back in the pew. Ellery climbed up on my lap, her blue eyes squinted in thought, and she asked me, “why did Jesus have to die?” My heart sank; I had been dreading this conversation since we decided to raise our children Catholic. I do not like Good Friday. I don’t like to think of the cruelty that Jesus had to go through, the pain and torture. It isn’t my favorite thing to think about, though I am supposed to honor and behold that image as a Catholic. I explained to her, choking on my whispers, that the other people in His town thought Jesus was a bad man and a liar because some people called him the King of the Jewish People, and there was only allowed to be one king, the monarch, King Herod. Pontius Pilate, a man with a lot of power, didn’t act on Jesus’s behalf; therefore, Jesus was set to die. He was crucified on the cross, and I showed her in my palms where the nails went. I told her he went into Heaven on Easter Sunday, and He threw open the gates for us to be able to be with him when it is our turn to die. He was waiting for us, and we would all be with Him again one day. She looked up at the crucifix in the front of the church, seeming to understand this, and said, “oh. Ok.” She didn’t seem phased, and I breathed a sigh of relief that my answer was acceptable without further question. Or so I had assumed. After about thirty seconds or so, she walked down to see my husband, and she stopped dead in her tracks. The “something just broke my heart” look came over her face, and sobs trembled her chin. “I don’t want to be died!” she wailed, collapsing into my husband’s arms. He looked at me, dumbstruck, and I realized what I had done. “Come to Mama, baby. It’s okay; let’s just sit here and talk,”  I cooed as she came back into my arms. I sat with her again and braced myself for the next part. Boy, had I stepped in it this time.

Her clear, liquid blue eyes pierced my heart as I wiped her tears. She looked at me, desperate for an answer as to why she had to die. And I started talking to her, assuring her that she would not die soon. I told her that none of us were going to die anytime soon, and we had a long time and life ahead of us to be together. She asked me if only adults die, and I was honest with her and told her that no, babies and kids can die also. But I would do everything in my power, as would my husband and our families, to keep her safe and healthy, alive and whole, for as long as we could. I calmed her fears, settling her heart over and over, telling her that we would all be okay and a family for a very, very long time. None of us would see Jesus soon. I promised. She smiled, gave me her signature squeeze around the neck and an, “I love you, Mommy.” My heart was so heavy, I almost couldn’t breathe. I lied to her…and it hurt me so.

See, here was what broke my heart. I don’t know when we will die. I can’t guarantee her that we will all be together for a long time. I can’t promise her that I will not die tomorrow, that she will live until she’s 90, or that none of us will see Jesus soon. I can’t know that, but I told her this. And it hurt me. I thought about the people we have lost too soon. July 20, 2013, reminded me that tomorrow is promised to no one, and death can happen at any single moment, with no warning. And Death doesn’t care if you have young children, a family, are alone, or have people counting on you. It doesn’t care, and it isn’t fair. At that moment, remembering my cousin and others who have passed well before we here on Earth are okay with it, fresh tears found their way to my cheeks. Onlookers may have seen my emotions as a direct reaction to the mass and message, but it wasn’t that. I was sad thinking of those who have passed, and the fact that I can be separated from my kids at any time, not guaranteed to see them become parents, see my grandchildren, dance with my husband on a monumental anniversary. And I was sad because, in the moment, even though I didn’t tell her the total truth, I did the right thing. I promised my child something that I have no control over, and something that is so fragile and unknown: that we would live for a long time, together, as a family. I did what I had to do, lied to my child in CHURCH no less, but it was an answer she accepted wholly, without question. And as I looked at her beach blond hair and cherub cheeks, her eyes calm with knowing she would not die anytime soon, I realized that I promised her something that I want to be true, so badly, and it is a promise I am okay with making.

There are conversations that you imagine yourself having, but you don’t really know how you will handle. From the sex talk to the death talk, there are topics that need to be broached with clarity and conciseness, honesty and simplicity. I didn’t imagine having the intro to death chat with my three year old at this tender age, but I am glad that she and I had that moment. It did my heart good to soothe hers, and I did what any mother would do: I made a promise to my child that, in my heart, I so desperately want to see through. And though we don’t know what our tomorrows will bring, as long as my child believes in me and the power of my love for her, I know no matter what, she will know I will never truly leave her, regardless of how many breaths we have left.

mother

And it never, ever dies…

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And that, right there, is a fact!!