Tuesday, January 29, 2013

most important

I don't even know where to begin.  Hey, guys, breaking news:  parenting is hard.  Have you heard that?  Have you heard that it's the hardest thing in the world, and also the best thing in the world?  Oh.  Well, have you heard that kids make you crazy even while introducing you to an amazing love you never thought possible?  OH.  Fine, then.  Maybe we have run out of ways to describe it, parenting.  Maybe words are inadequate.  Or maybe parents should quit blathering on about it and move on to more interesting topics.

Whichever answer is right, the unfortunate truth is that I'm going to talk about it, anyway.  Because it is SO hard some days, and so knitted to the core of my being every day.  Because I thought I would be ahead of the game this morning, out of bed before my family, coffee on, oatmeal made, eggs scrambling, and I had even managed a shower sometime in the previous 48 hours, so, minimal school drop-off embarrassment!  Winning!

But Lena did NOT want to get out of bed, and she cried.  Then she did NOT want to come out into the living room, and she cried.  She did NOT want to sit and eat her oatmeal, and she cried.  She was NOT happy that she missed her morning cartoon and I would not put on another, and she cried.

She wanted to wear her sundress, even though the weather was gray and chilly.  She wanted to sit in front of her oatmeal and chat with Evie instead of eating.  She wanted to sing in the bathroom instead of brushing her teeth.  She wanted to pick out books for the car ride instead of putting on shoes.

And she cried.

By the time I got the girls herded into the car and buckled in, any sense of being ahead of the game was gone.  It had given up, turned around, thrown its equipment on the field, picked the equipment back up and given it a good Serena Williams, stomped off the field, and could now be found hiding under the bleachers in a black trenchcoat writing angry poetry that didn't rhyme.

I used to think I was a patient person.  I could wait in line at the post office for an hour and a half on the last shipping day before Christmas surrounded by huffy belligerent customers and near-sociopathic employees, and I could do this without complaint, even able to smile through it.  I thought patience was a virtue I pretty much had under my belt.

Not.  So.

We were late.  Parking was a nightmare.  I finally ditched the car three blocks from the wrong end of the school, threw Evie into the stroller, coaxed Lena out of the car, and hustled down the sidewalk.  And Lena?  She cried.  She cried the entire way because I wouldn't let her ride in the stroller.   Her.  My boundless-energy I-want-to-ride-my-bike-all-the-way-to-Mexico! FIVE-year-old.  I had to grip her hand and almost pull her along behind me.  And when we finally made it to her class, already in progress, I had to physically PUT her in the room.

And then I left.


Angry at her, but mostly angry at myself.  I couldn't solve the problem, even though I tried several times to stop, get down on her level, and calmly figure it out with her.  I couldn't fix it.  And by the end of the ordeal, I hadn't kept my cool.  I was angry at myself for being angry, too.  I don't want to be angry at my daughter.  My baby.  The little girl I almost crawled into bed with to sleep next to last night, because I love her so much it really does hurt.  And when I looked at her sleeping face last night and said a silent prayer for God to please watch over her, please keep her safe, please keep her healthy, please keep her blessed.  Please let her grow to be an old lady of 104 with dozens of great great grandchildren and a happy life behind her. Please cradle her every step.  But I know that every parent prays that prayer, and I couldn't stop myself from thinking of every parent who prayed that prayer the night before sending their own gorgeous child off to school in Newtown last month, not knowing their prayers would not help them through even one more day.  And I almost couldn't sleep last night, once again tortured by the knowledge that there is nothing I can ever do to guarantee the safety and health of my children.  This is not unusual - losing some sleep over this knowledge is just another benefit of being a parent.  We just fight through it, trust, and carry on.  We have to.  It is a great and terrifying thing to love a child.  There is no way around that.

And those were my feelings not twelve hours before being so angry with her this morning.  Okay, so frustrated.  No....I was angry.  And defeated.  Defeated because all I could see after dropping her off was the great continent-wide chasm between how I had felt last night and how I had acted this morning.  Because I shrugged at the other parents in the schoolyard with a just-another-one-of-those-mornings! look on my face when I would lay down on railroad tracks for that girl whom I just left sniffling in her classroom doorway.  Unbelievable, this being a parent.  How do people do this?  No.  Really.  HOW?

Earlier to bed tonight.  Earlier to rise in the morning.  More patience.  More perspective.  Being late is not the end of the world.  A sundress in cool weather - with pants and a good jacket - will not kill her.  Listen to her chat with her little sister over breakfast.  Be happy that she sings.  Love that she loves books.  And putting the jump seat on the stroller once in a while so that the five-year-old can ride, too, will not spoil her forever.  You love her.  She adores you.  Today she is here, with you, and she still likes to hold your hand.

This is what is most important.

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