Friday, October 25, 2013

The Power of the Written Word

Last night, my daughter found herself in some trouble.

Make that double trouble.  Because during her reprimand, she let her emotions get the best of her and, as she is prone to do, got sassy.

She found herself alone upstairs in her room for the evening.  She’s too young to realize it, but alone time is probably what she needed all along.

This morning, she presented me with a card she had made.  And I could just imagine her, sitting up in her room, contrite and sad and angry and all alone with the weight of her conscience.

It read:

"I LOVE you Mommy.  Just pretend that that never happened and will you forgive me?"

Such a poignant expression of her feelings – words both vulnerable and brave.  But that’s my girl.  Like me, her pencil becomes her instrument of self-expression.  Like the time, during a particularly frustrating round of homework, she wrote and then erased “I’m trying.  Really hard.”  Like her journal entries I happened to stumble upon as I was looking for paper for her brother, which state how proud she is of her brothers, how excited she is for her best friend and how much she loves her family.  The things she would never say out loud, but I know she wants to.

She watched me read the card with anticipation and worry.  We hugged and I assured her she was forgiven.
I hope that, one day, she’ll read this and understand how much that note meant to me and how much she means to me.  I hope she will see why I've written this blog, which is my own way of processing and documenting my feelings, concerns and joys.  And I hope she and her brothers will be able, through my words, to understand just how much I love them.

And how I understand her so much more than she thinks I do.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Now I Get It

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was a runner.  I use that term loosely, as it was not for the love of running that I ran.  I ran because: 1) having sports on my college applications made me look well-rounded; 2) I enjoyed the social aspect; and 3) I was not athletically equipped to do anything else.

During this time my father, who was and still is a runner, in every sense of the word (in fact I recently learned he’s been putting off a hip replacement for years because it means he’ll have to stop running) occasionally invited me to run with him.  My father always encouraged my running, and I think he knew that if I gave myself half a chance and showed a little dedication, I could be a better runner.  This is where we are different – my father never listens to that little voice inside that says “no.”  I do.  Or, rather, I did.

Although I loved that my dad asked me, I always felt self-conscious and awkward during those runs.  Self-conscious because I slowed him down.  A lot.  And also, he was serious about it.  I was not.  There was the time I tried to chew gum and it broke down into a million pieces in my mouth and we had to stop so I could "relieve" myself of the gum, trying to spit-gargle my mouth clean so I wouldn’t choke.  He inwardly shook his head in exasperation and quietly suggested it might not be a good idea to run with gum in my mouth.  He had a point.  I remember laughingly showing him how my friend and I ran backward or used our arms like windmills when it was windy, to be silly.  I truly don't believe he thought it was as hilarious as I did.  It was ridiculous. I slowed him down.  I got cramps.  Honestly, I psyched myself out so much over these runs that I think I just went to the land of “I can’t.”  Which, despite the fact that I had hotel points there, wasn’t a place he ever visited.  I was thrilled for the one-on-one with him, but I never actually got a chance to enjoy it because I was too stressed out.  Inevitably, he’d escort me home and he would take off to get a few more miles in.  Miles where he didn’t have to contend with dissolving gum issues and he could empty his head of the ridiculous image of me and my friend wind milling our arms through the streets of town.  

Or so I thought.

Thanks to this man, for the second time in my life, I am running, although this time, it’s because I actually (gasp!) enjoy it.  It clears my head and organizes my thoughts.  I have a chance to talk to myself and to God when I run.  Or just revel in total silence.  And also I’m still not athletically equipped to do anything else.

And sometimes I even run with my dad.  But I can’t talk (I have to focus on not dying), so it’s largely in silence.  It’s still a little stressful, because he’s still faster than me, but as I have gotten slower, so has he.  And I enjoy just being with him.

The other day, I decided to take advantage of the break in Richmond rain to go for a run.  Tate intercepted me on my way out and asked if he could go, which totally made my day.  And so, we set off on a 1.3 mile loop around our neighborhood.  A couple stomach cramps later, I deposited him at the house with some high-fives and a big hug and, feeling good, ran off to squeeze in another couple miles before football practice.

Alone with my thoughts, I realized I had pulled a “dad.”  And also, in that moment I realized this:

That maybe my dad was not relieved to get rid of me and do his own thing, having finished the pity run.  He just wanted to run a little farther.  And maybe just clear his head.

That he was not upset when I had a cramp, even though I suspect he knew there were times I was just pretending.

That he must be the most patient man on earth, to put up with running with me and my gum and my windmills and endless teenage girl chatter.

That he endured all these things, without complaint, because it meant just being together.

The joy I felt having run with my little man, just that time spent together, connecting…I got it.

And I realized...that was the point.

That was always the point.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

That Would Be Lovely

You know what would be lovely?  An afternoon of stress-free homework.  Make that an afternoon of no homework.

You know what would be lovely?  My children needing me in staggered phases as opposed to ALLATTHESAMETIIME.

You know what would be lovely?  A sit down dinner with the entire family at a normal hour, instead of a forced sit down early-bird special so we can get to cheerleading practice.

You know what would be lovely?  If someone would clean my house on a regular basis.

You know what would be lovely?  If someone didn’t second guess me at every turn.

You know what would be lovely?  Hugs from my children for no reason other than that they love me.

You know what would be lovely?  Being able to freeze time.  Although, maybe it’s a blessing that we can’t.

You know what would be lovely?  Grass in my yard.

You know what would be lovely?  Being able to go to all their games, all at the same time.

You know what would be lovely?  A weekend without any games.  Just one.

You know what would be lovely?  More time for myself.

You know what would be lovely?  Finishing their baby books.  Or starting.

You know what would be lovely?  Uncomplicated, happy days where my biggest concern was getting home from Target in time for a nap.

You know what would be lovely?  Having a glass of wine while they play in the tub, then squeezing each and every one of them while I towel them off,  pack them in their little  jammies, and have them climb into my lap with their sweet-smelling pudgy baby skin and wet hair to read a book and snuggle and twirl my hair.

You know what would be lovely?  If one day, they all reminisce about how I did know what I was doing, how clean my house was (or so they thought), how much fun they had in the yard, how I never missed a game, how it’s funny and “so Mom” that their baby books are half-finished or empty altogether, how they used to take baths together and snuggle up to read, how they loved having family dinners, how they only pretended to be annoyed by my hugs and snuggles but are really glad I did that, and how patient I was with their homework.  OK, that last one probably isn’t going to happen (if this week is any example).

Wouldn’t that be lovely??