This summer was full of fun, giggles, adventures and tons of time with my daughters. Each day I got to see more and more of their personalities and the young women they are becoming.
A few weeks ago my husband was out of town for work. Not a huge deal…well it does mean I do it all alone. When he is out of town, I am in responsible for morning wake up, breakfast, getting my girls ready for school, getting myself to work just on time, working a full day, picking my girls up, taking them to their activities, dinner, showers, bedtime…woooo oye! just that alone makes for one very exhausting week. If that was not enough fun my oldest decided it would be a great time to get a fever and a horrific chest cold. Add on missing three and a half days of work to care for her. I just about lost it!
Then this happened. In between the lack of sleep, all my mommy responsibilities, ugggg household responsibilities, a sick daughter and juggling work week this happen….a text comes from a friend checking in on me to see how I am handling it all, a friend sends me home with a dinner for that night, my sister shares with me a super awesome dream she went after, a friend helps with morning school drop offs, a friend listens through all my tears about a family problem and gently and honestly tells me the words I needed to hear. Through all the crazy, through all the stress, through all of what could have been a very lonely time, I was reminded of how very, very lucky I am to have these amazing women in my life. I was reminded of the gifts they give and share with me everyday!
I heard yelling from downstairs. The kind of yelling sisters do at each other when they taunt and push each others buttons. I walked downstairs to see a familiar scene. My oldest (9 years old) upset and in tears and my youngest (7 years old) making her breakfast (doing exactly what she is supposed to be doing…as usual and totally trying to show up her sister and acting like she did absolutely nothing). Mad and very upset at Tricia (my oldest) began to yell and get more and more upset while she tried to tell me what her little sister had done.
“This is not something we get this upset about T. You need to go upstairs and calm down,” I told her.
“It’s ok. Go calm down. It’s not over. We will talk about what happen but you need to calm down first,” I let her know and she went upstairs to calm down (not happily but upstairs).
Ten or so minutes passed and I went upstairs to check on her.
“How we doing?…. Calm? “
“Yes, momma,” she smiled.
“So tell me what happened downstairs.”
“I had picked my show. You told me it was my turn. I started to make my breakfast. While I was making my breakfast SHE took the remote and turned on what SHE wanted to watch. Then SHE wouldn’t give me back the remote,” Tricia told me.
“Ok. Lets go downstairs and tell her how you feel. Tell her you don’t like what she did!” I encouraged her.
“Oooookkkkkayyy Mommy,” she answered me not 100% sure what she had just agreed she was going to to or completely believing that she was up for what I had just proposed.
We walked downstairs and the TV remote was laying on the couch next to where Annabeth stood.
“Tricia, go get the remote,” I whispered.
“Get the remote,” I nodded and looked toward the remote to reassure her.
She went to take the remote.
Her sister went to grab it to. Suddenly the remote was in Tricia’s hand. She paused and starred at in awww….awww that she had won the grab off and paused in stunned disbelief. As instantly as she paused in oh my gawd I beat her in the grab awwww, she looked at me with “I did it! Stunning Awwww” smile and off she went running around the downstairs and into the kitchen, and around the living room and remote in hand as her not happy little sister chased after her.
“AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” Tricia yelled at her sister as the both fought tug of war style over the remote. Tricia’s eyes connected with me screaming silently, “Ok Mommy I grabbed it. Now what the heck do I do!”
Not breaking eye contact with her, “You took…” I said words to start her off.
“You took the remote from me when I was making my breakfast!!” she said loudly to her sister. She looked at me for more words.
“That wasn’t…” I helped again.
“That wasn’t nice. It was my turn to watch….” and she went on to tell her sister what she really thought.
Suddenly, with each word, each opinion, each feeling and thought she shared out loud with her sister her chest began to puff up. It was an energy in her I had never seen or felt with her. As she finished telling her sister she what she felt and thought, she paused.
In that moment I saw a moment wash over her.
In this moment she had learned the power of her opinion. She discovered the power of telling someone else about how their actions made her feel. She unlocked the power of her words to tell someone what they did was not ok with her. She revealed the power of telling someone what she wanted.
It was in that moment I suddenly made my own discovery.
When I became a mother I always knew I wanted to raise well behaved children. I wanted to raise children who followed directions, were respectful, polite, happy and kind. As I have grown as a parent and as a person I have learned that there are other traits and qualities I want my daughters to embrace and posses as adults….resilience, unwavering problem solving abilities, a risk takers spirit, creators and a dreamers ambition.
In this moment I realized something brand new!
I realized that polite, respectful, thoughtful, kind, independent, risk taking, problem solving daughters that I wanted to raise was not enough. I learned, in this moment, this new lesson would be one of the most important skills I would strive to help my daughters posses. I want daughters who also didn’t hold back for fear conflict. I want daughters who embrace the power of their words and their opinion. I want daughter who share their thoughts and words confidently, thoughtfully and kindly with others without fear or hesitation. I want their feeling, opinions and thoughts not just to be had but to be shared because …they matter, their voice matters, their feelings matter and their opinions matter!!!
I was inspired to share this moment with my daughters by Galit Breen’s Why I’m Not Raising a Good Girl and Pernille Ripp’s All Hail the Kids. Thank you both of you for your words and for inspiring me to tell mine too!
Last week was one full of those on the edge moments! You know those moments you want to run out of your house screaming someone save me from this insanity. Those moments you count down the time until your husband will be home from work so you can tag him…”you’re it”! Those moments you filter so much, your families mouths would drop if they knew the things you really wanted to say. Well…wrapped up in all that insanity there is awesomeness. The you wouldn’t have it any other way moments of motherhood.
Last week was a smidge more on the am I going to survive side…
Walking to the birthday party from our car Olivia shared with me how excited she was to go to a Hip Hop dance Birthday Party.
“I’ve always wanted to try Hip Hop mommy!” She smiled and skipped as we walked into the building where the party was being held.
“Quick quick Olivia. We don’t want to miss too much.” I urged her.
Walking down the stairs to the dance room I could feel her happiness to be with one of her very best friends on her special day.
The party had started. We were late.Ten seven year olds sat in a circle doing their predance stretching.
“Go ahead Olivia. Go find a spot.”
“No mommy,” she said taking my hand.
“It’s ok Olivia. There’s a spot right ….”
There wasn’t an open spot for her to just jump right in. I scanned the room trying to make eye contact with one of the girls that Olivia would know. She knew no one. Just the birthday girl.
“Go ahead Olivia. It’s time to stretch.”
The dance instructor got the group up and began to have them do steps to loosen them up.
“No mommmmmy. I want to go!” she urged.
Tears began to stream from her eyes. She grabbed me tight and buried her head in my side.
My plan was to I was to just drop her at the party and then go to the local Starbucks to write. I wanted these two hours. Suddenly my wants became secondary. It wasn’t going to happen.
“I want to leave mommy.”
I knew that instant we, I had to stay.
“What if we just sit here and watch.” I encouraged her.
“Ok.” she answered.
I scanned the room again for someone from the party that could come over and welcome her in. The birthday girls mom came in the room. I sighed in relief.
“Ohhhh she could help,” I thought easing my stress.
A quick break in the action happened and Olivia’s friend came running over to her asking her to come dance. Olivia buried her head in my arm and just could not do it.
“What was I going to do? Was she going to sit with me the whole party? What would this mean for other parties?” I worried and wondered.
Suddenly I felt a calm come over me. We came late. She only knows one or two girls. How many adults could walk into a room of strangers and just join in dancing in front of strangers? I couldn’t. How could I expect Olivia to. So we sat. We watched and I softly spoke to her about what I saw.
“Look at those girls dancing. Not all of them are doing it perfectly, are they?” I whispered. “Looks like everyone is just trying their best, dancing to the music.” whispered some more.
Slowly Olivia’s tears began to dry and her grip of my arm lessened. She watched. She smiled. We clapped to the music and she began to enjoy being there.
“Water break!” the dance instructor shouted.
Like magic Olivia’s friend (the birthday girl) and another old friend from preschool appeared.
“Come dance with us Olivia!” they said to her.
Olivia looked at me.
“It’s her birthday Olivia. Do it for her,” I whispered gently.
With her eyes locked on me she smiled and nodded.
“Ok!” she said holding her friends hand and walking onto the dance floor.
The birthday girls mother sat next to me.
“Did you do that?” I asked.
“Yes” she smiled.
“Thank you so much.”
Olivia walked onto the dance floor. The dance instructor smiled at her, came to her and warmly welcomed her giving her a high five. Olivia was front and center, in minutes, learning the dance moves to the big dance number. I sat there I soaking in my momma pride. I hadn’t pushed. I didn’t yell, get firm or try to hard. I took a step back and tuned into where Olivia was at. I respected her and her feelings. I gently made sure she learned that she could feel this way and still be brave enough join in. Finally, after many, many moments of stepping on each others toes, missed steps and disastrous numbers Olivia and I had finally gotten all the steps right. What a beautiful number we danced…together. You should have seen her dance!!
An hour and a half drive. Four hours swimming. Carrying a double ride figure-eight tube up a three-story wooden stair case more times then I can count. Trips down the slides. Rides on the lazy river. Exhausted after a fantastic day, we were finally settled back in the hotel room.
Screeches filled the two-story loft style hotel room we were staying in (beyond a treat for us) as the four girls whirl around discovering each part of it. Walking into the main floor bathroom I discovered the two person, a small child could swim in, jacuzzi whirlpool tub in the bathroom.
“Let’s fill it up. The girls can play in it while we wait for the pizza to get here.” Holly geniusly suggests.
With a deep relieved sigh of a mother with no more energy left, “Yes! That is a great idea.”
I didn’t waste second yelling, “GGGIIIIRRRLS come and see this tub! What until you see what it does!”
Giggles and laughter fill the hotel room as all four girls, ages 4-6 see the tub. Their giddiness and happy giggles turn to screeches as they get in the tub together eager to continue their adventures and fun filled day.
Holly and my friendship started when we started teaching the same year, we were fresh, green, nieeve, brand spankin new teachers. Over the twelve years we shared a classroom (probably close to the most fun, collaborative, creative and one of the most rewarding times in my career). We collaborated, worked together on projects, shared duties, knew all of the kids on each others case loads, grew together as teachers and taught each other tricks and tools we still use today. She got married. I went to her wedding. We had babies six months apart…Twice. We both had two girls. We hung out. We spent time together. We developed a great friendship. Over the twelve plus years we created the kind of friendship that you can go months without seeing each other and then the instant you see each other it is like no time has ever passed. The kind of friendship that when our schedules finally allow us to find free time for each other, I talk her ear off and smile until my cheeks hurt and the time was never enough.
As screeches and loud giggles bounce around the bathroom walls. Holly and I waste no time catching up. We shared stories about our husband. We commiserated and reminded each other we are not the only one whose husband does this or that. We shared our fears about our daughters up coming school year. We catch up on gossip about work.
“Mommmmmyyyyyy!!!!! I think the tub is full enough now!” one of the girls shouts.
Holly and I walk into the bathroom to turn on the whirlpool jets. Excitement ozzes out of our girls as they anticipate the excitement of this brand new experienced. With one firm push of a button the jets come to life. Ear piercing giddy screams fill the room as the girls are surprised by the force of the jets and this newly discovered fun. Smiling, Holly and I go back to the kitchen to continue our chatting assured that the girls will be entertained for quite sometime.
“That was such a good idea putting them in the tub.” I say to Holly. “This will for sure keep them busy until the pizza gets here. I’m sure after all that swimming my girls are ravenous. This will keep their mind off of being hungry ”
“They are having so much fun,” she smiles.
Minutes pass…a half hour passes… soon we begin to hear louder happier, giddier, gigglier fun coming from the bathroom.
“I better go check on them,” Holly says raising her eyebrows, knowing that it is her turn to check.
my attention to the perfect after swimming, before deep dish pizza, during mom and girl talk snack is suddenly interrupted as I laugh out loud, and fall over (seriously… I was on the floor) roaring in laughter and slapping the floor as tears stream down my eyes. And as Holly walks out of the bathroom her I can’t believe I just said that out loud, no one ever told me that combination of words would ever leave my lips, did I just use vagina and jets in the same sentence straight face instantly erupted into uncontrollable laughter!