She’s so busy with work and friends
We might butt heads but always make amends
I rise with the sun, while she’s deep in hibernate
How to connect? A quick brunch date!
Dear Ms. K.,
I want to thank you for giving my daughter detention today. Per our previous email, you informed me that she has been late to your class every day for several days. This baffled me, as I drop her off an hour early and you are her first class of the day. After several warnings, you emailed me to let me know that should she be late again, she would get detention. I assured you she would not repeat that mistake.
But of course, I cannot guarantee the actions of anyone besides myself.
After confronting her, she hurriedly assured me she learned her lesson. She explained that she gets hungry and her friend meets her to bring her food. Her friend is not always so quick.
Oh, are we blaming our friend?
No, no. It’s not her fault. Mom, it won’t happen again!
I try to give my daughter freedom within strict guidelines. A “C” in a class at any time means her cell phone gets confiscated until the grade goes up. How she operates within her hours and activities is up to her.
When I remind her to make time for breakfast in the mornings and to pack a snack, I am met with heavy sighs. She is too busy styling her hair and applying makeup to worry about breakfast.
So it happened again today. She didn’t eat breakfast. She got hungry and met her friend. She was late to your class. And, as you promised, she will now have to serve detention – one hour after school tomorrow.
In the car, she was shaken. She’s never had this kind of consequence from a teacher before.
“It’s my fault. I got hungry. I didn’t pack any snacks or eat breakfast. It’s my responsibility. I will pack food the night before.”
I wanted to lecture her and reinforce the lesson. I wanted to voice my dismay and disappointment. Instead, I said, “I am very proud of you for taking responsibility for this and not blaming anyone.”
Thank you, Ms. K., for doing the right thing. You are helping my daughter develop character and responsibility.
“What should I blog about tonight?”
“How much you love me,” Josie says.
“Yes, I will.”
She smiles with delight and surprise.
Try as I might, I cannot separate love from fear entirely. I love her, my first born. Knowing her has lit the dark corners of my soul forever. She laughs often. She is deeply sensitive to others and is quick to help…anyone. A friend recently texted me. She thanked me for raising such a generous daughter who offered to loan dresses to her friends for a dance. I had no idea.
And I fight the fear that clouds my love for her. Will she get college scholarships if she gets a “C” in math? Couldn’t she have practiced a wee bit more for her violin competition? Will boys taunt her sexually when she goes to high school? Will they touch her against her consent? Will she develop an eating disorder like the 20 million women in our country suffering from anorexia nervosa? On and on it goes. The remedy for this chain of anxiety? Be present. Admire how she paints her nails and reads her English book. She hops about the kitchen, looking for a snack. She jumps up and teases the dog, English book in hand.
I fear the swimming pool filter ever since I opened it and found two small mice, spooning each other, dead.
I fear centipedes and the carpet in our guestroom sheds. When a filament comes loose and I’m not wearing my glasses, it looks just like a … CENTIPEDE!
But I’m not afraid of snakes and I’m not afraid of javelinas (collard peccary), despite the recent attack in Phoenix. I can overcome my fears. I CAN stop worrying over what has not happened and enjoy what is in front of me, right now.
Circuitously, I have offered my advice. Pay attention. Be present and kick fear to the curb.
When Josie was two years old, she slept in a white iron crib.
When I heard her stir, I’d come into the room and sing, “Good morning, my beautiful child!” I’d make up my own lyrics and melody, and she stood there, hands on the rails, lips pouting, curly hair flip flopped about her head. Then she’d lisp, “No thinging! No thinging!” I’d stop singing and carry her out of the crib. She had the Terrible Twos something bad. She threw temper tantrums daily and her jealousy of her newborn sister was immense. Finally, after a week of this, I decided I couldn’t be bossed around by my own toddler. I sang my song and she demanded I stop. This time, I answered, “Josie, it’s morning. I love you and I’m the mommy and you’re the baby and I’m going to sing if I want to and you’re not going to tell me no.” So I resumed singing. She stared at me incredulously. “NO! NO THINGING! NO THINGING!” She started to jump up and down, hands still on the rails. As she came down, her chin hit the rail and she bit her tongue. She cried her little lungs out. “Uh, I will come back later.” I told her. I felt the Mom Guilt all the time. Poor Josie was left to her own devices while I changed Ava’s diaper, fed Ava, took naps. I’d have to hand Josie off to her father a lot.
To this day, we rarely spend one on one time together. But today, I offered to go shoe shopping with the girls and Ava wanted to stay home while Josie wanted to go with me. So off we went. She found a red pair of Keds with wide ribbons. We joked around a lot. We laughed and ate chocolate. We bought a gift for friends who are expecting a baby, a baby carrier that can be worn in the front or as a backpack. I held my babies that same way frequently, enjoying their little bodies laying against mine, while I dusted furniture.
Josie wanted to hold my hand as we walked through the mall, this twelve year old who is now a half inch taller than me. I reveled in it, for I wondered, “At what age will she find it embarrassing to hold my hand?” She wanted nothing more than to just be with me. I’m a lucky mom.
Ira Glass says the key to success is plain old hard work. Keep working, don’t think too much about it. FINISH! And I’ve always wanted to be able to draw or paint and I know I’m not good at it – YET. So I sat down despite all the “work” I have to do (lesson plans, consulting work, a short story I want to finish) and I made art. It barely looks like opal. When I showed it to Josie, she said, “Um, I like the colors.” Ava hugged me because the criticism stung so badly.
But I shall persevere.