Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Your child is lovely. You're doing a good job.

“Is that your daughter over there, in the skirt?”

I could see the fear and embarrassment sweep across her face - oh no, what did she do? I saw her glance at my son to see if he was crying or recovering from whatever horrendous thing her daughter had done to him. It had to have been bad, after all, if I was to go out of my way to find her mother and tell her about the incident - something she needed to be punished for, surely.

I had been helping Uriah climb up a rock wall while wearing Ezra, the two combined equalling 62 pounds, so it was no easy feat, and I was concentrating on not letting Uriah fall and keeping Ezra’s grabby hands from my hair. The one time I forget to put a pony tail holder around my wrist. 

She climbed over to us, fast, skinny little thing, in a little bit of a show off manner, because, as she soon told me, she was almost eight and she found climbing to be very easy. 

She kept a polite distance but continued to climb around us, chatting all the while, and I continued to pay only half attention until she asked me how old my son was. I said he had just turned three. Uriah lit up a little at the mention of his recent birthday and stood a little taller as if to prove it was true, he really was three now. She stopped, got down from the bars and looked thoughtfully at him, smiling. “I might have guessed that. I can see it in his eyes. But my little brother is three and I know he can’t climb like your son. He’s doing so well.” 

I could have cried at the compliment. It was just so sweet and sincere and thoughtful and she wasn’t even eight…! She continued to talk and ask questions, complimenting Ezra’s bow and sweet smile, but she had my full attention now and Uriah was starting to swoon, too. She was so kind and polite and well mannered and I was truly impressed with her. Almost eight is a hard age, a weird age if I remember correctly (or was it just me?) and I found myself hoping that my children resemble her as they grow - a little silly and still very much a child, but polite, kind and thoughtful. 

I enjoyed our conversation so much that I felt the need to pass that on to her mother, who I had seen eyeing her daughter from the other end of the playground while entertaining her son in the sand pit. 

As I saw her expression turn immediately to concern, I placed my hand on her shoulder and quickly corrected her. I explained that her daughter had been lovely, so sweet to my son and I, and I just couldn’t leave the park without her knowing. 

The mother began to tear up. 

It surprised me at first, but then I thought - I’ve surprised her. Of course her first reaction was fear, defense - us moms are so quick to judge, so quick to tattle. I’m sure her daughter was just as lovely to many other parents and kids on that playground that night but no one thinks to share that. Why? It should be said more often. Your child is lovely. You’re doing a good job.

I began to tear up at the sight of her wet cheeks. I just couldn’t help myself! She profusely thanked me for coming over and telling her. It wasn’t something I had to do and wasn’t something that is done often, but she needed to hear that about her daughter. My compliment had made her happy and proud, as she should be, and as should be my role as a fellow mother. It is our job, in this harsh, busy world, to spread love and lift each other up. It took two minutes of my time but it made her day. (I probably got her daughter an extra cookie at dessert time, too.)

So you. You, at the park with the almost eight year old daughter or the three year old climbing the rock wall or the two year old screaming as he runs across the bridge, the ten year old in the swing claiming he has touched the sky… Your child is lovely. You’re doing a good job. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

three years

As soon as you get pregnant, everyone has their piece of advice to share. Asked upon or not, you are now the student and they the teacher (though some think expert) and their wisdom is something you need to be imparted with - cloth diapering vs. using disposable, wood toys vs. plastic toys, breastfed vs. bottle fed, wearing your baby vs. using a stroller... So on and so forth until your head spins and you actually consider smacking the old lady in the grocery store who thought it appropriate to give you her two cents in regards to your large, heavy belly and the already daunting task of motherhood.

The one common denominator, though, the one piece of advice everyone will agree upon is "that it goes by so fast."

They all say it. The ones with the three month old and the ones with the thirty year old. "It goes by so fast."

And it does, yes. I can attest to this. With a three year old and a ten month old, I know it to be true. So much of my day is spent looking at these beautiful, growing babies wondering how on earth did we get here? Here! How do I have a three year old and a ten month old? How? When?

But when Uriah turned three, the overwhelming feeling wasn't that of swiftness and fleeting moments and both awe and disproval at the passing of time. Everyone claims that "it feels like just yesterday I was bringing him home from the hospital..."

But I'm calling bullshit.

Surely, they're all lying. Or at least fifty percent. Maybe thirty? Either someone's lying or, for the first time in three years, I've reached a stage in motherhood that I am alone in.

When Uriah turned three I didn't find myself feeling like it was just yesterday I brought him home from the hospital. No. When Uriah turned three it felt like it had been three years since I brought him home from the hospital. Maybe even longer. Is that possible? It didn't feel like yesterday. I could remember that day, and I loved that day and long for those first hours again, but I looked at my growing boy and felt the weight of those three years. They did not pass by unnoticed. They did not disappear. They were there. Each long day, each laugh, each adventure, each milestone, each timeout, all the guilt, all the tears, all the joy, all of it. It felt like it had been three years. Three long, hard, exhausting, wonderful years.

But that just added to that awful, famous mom guilt - If time flies when you're having fun, was I not having fun? Should I have enjoyed it more? Is it even possible to have enjoyed it more than I did? Am I a bad mom for admitting that those three years were hard? Long? Am I really supposed to feel like it was just yesterday?

There are days Uriah probably thinks my entire job as a mom is to ruin all his fun - make him clean up the Legos, take a nap, go to the bathroom, wear pants, eat his meat (gosh, mom's so mean) - and days he's ready to hang a medal around my neck before bed because I put two chocolate chips on his plate at lunch, skipped grocery shopping to spend hours at the park, read one extra book before nap and let him splash in the bathtub after dinner.

See, he has good days and bad days and so do I - we're sorta figuring this thing out together. I was born the same time he was, in a sense. I'm teaching him and he's teaching me. We're new at this - it's only been three years, after all - but I think we're doing a pretty great job.

Because all of that stuff, the nagging and the discipling and the monotony and the silliness and the messes and the adventures and the games and the smiles and the love... It all makes for a really full, hard, long, wonderful three years. And maybe it's ok that I see all that when I look at my three year old. Maybe I'm the lucky one, to feel such a heaviness on my heart when I see his bright blue eyes sparkle in my direction. I've been looking into those beautiful eyes for three years and not one of those days has been lost on me. Good, bad, long, hard, easy, fun, wonderful...

It feels like I brought Uriah home from the hospital three years ago.

It's already been three years?

It's only been three years?

It's been a good three years.