Sunday, May 13, 2012

All this giving and loving

I just talked with a friend of mine whose mom is in advanced stages of Alzhimer's.  She told me that, for several reasons, she secretly hates Mother's Day and everything that goes with it.  Our situations are vastly different, but after all the tears I've shed today and the heartache I've been feeling, I decided that maybe I agree with her.  

But then I sat down to write about all the cute things my kids did today--make me cards, sing to me in bed, cook breakfast, tell me why they love me, go to bed without any coercion(!!!!)--and I started thinking that maybe I don't agree.  My girls (largely because of Reid's counsel)  made very conscious choices today to do their part to make this day special for me.  So maybe I don't have to hate this day.  

If I think about those who call me Mother, then I definitely feel differently about this day.  I feel a lot of gratitude.  I am grateful today for my now 7-year-old, Grace.  For her sweet notes that she freely leaves all over the house, for her eagerness to help her little brother, for her willingness to sit and cuddle with me at every request, for her wit, her sarcasm, her sensitivity, her stubborness, her sweet tooth, her shyness, her intense and immense fear of being late, her generosity, and, on occasion I'm even grateful for the times when she ends up in bed with me after a nightmare or seeing a spider.  She's had the great misfortune of being my first child but seems to be overcoming that huge disadvantage.  She's a remarkable student, sister, friend and daughter.  

I'm grateful for Abby.  I'm grateful for her constant desire to learn, her never-ending questions, her willingness to sacrifice just about anything if it means making peace in the home, her ability to apologize, her inablilty to express affection without using baby-talk, and her drive to keep up with Grace--she's playing soccer now, she's taught herself to read and do math, and is currently working on Grace's piano songs.   People who haven't seen her for a while often mistake her for Grace.  Her hair is getting darker, she's thinning out, and most of all--she's just not a little kid anymore.  She's ready for kindergarten in every way.  And, though I never thought I'd say this--I'm ready for her to go.  She absolutely loves loves loves to learn, and absolutely thrives in a classroom setting.  Sometime in the past year she started including a certain phrase in most of her prayers--"Thank you for all this giving and loving."   It doesn't entirely make sense, and I have no idea where she got it, but I know exactly what she means by it.  Reid and I secretly exchange a smile every time she says it.  We don't want her to feel shy about it because then she might stop saying it, so we don't say anything.  

I'm grateful for Eliza.  I'm grateful for her spunk, her sass, her sweetness, and her inexplicable obsession with chapstick and lipgloss. I'm grateful for her innocence, her enthusiasm about just about everything, and her inability to sit still for more than 20 seconds.  I'm grateful for her amazing appetite, her willingness to eat anything and everything, her ability to express gratitude so freely, and the fact that she still naps for me more than half the time. I'm grateful that her hourly meltdowns are slowly becoming daily meltdowns.  And I'm in love with her continually-growing and somewhat made-up vocabulary.  She adds "of the heck" to the end of any exclaimed question.  Like "how did that spider get way up there of the heck?!?" or "Why did dad go to work so early of the heck?!?"  She also invented my favorite portmanteau--"hanitizer!!"  You'll never hear any of us call it "hand sanitizer" again!  She uses the word "awfully" all the time.  Both correctly and incorrectly.  Can't decide which is cuter: "Mom, James is awfully good at crawling!" or "James should awfully learn how to go down the stairs soon!"  She speaks in exclamation marks.  She's intensely afraid of all insects.  And, although she's determined that she isn't--she's still my little girl!!  I often joke that Eliza is much like her hair--capable of getting quite out of control quite quickly, demands more attention and time than you might think, extremely hard to get through, and truly unpredictable.  But when everything goes just right--has the ability to be so cute that your heart literally melts right inside of you.  Just look at her curly locks in this picture from earlier today.

I'm grateful for James.  I'm grateful that he's finally crawling and still not walking.  I'm grateful for his smiles, his eyes, his ability to calm himself down easily, his two left fingers, his evil-villain laugh, his jabbers that sound like complete sentences (i could have sworn he said "I don't want that" today!) and his sweet and calm disposition.  We finally realized that he had an ear infection and might have had it for a looooooong time.  Once we kicked that, his screechy squawky side sort of disappeared, and his sweet calm side showed itself again.  It's nice to have him back.  I'm grateful that I have a boy.  I love all other little boys in the world just a tiny bit more because of James.  He's my baby, my buddy and I can't--and never will be able to get enough of him!

And of course my thoughts are turned to my own mother today.  For so many reasons I'm missing her fiercely this evening.  And I'm allowing myself that.  And I've felt really mad that she's gone.  I've allowed myself that, as well.   Last Sunday would have been her 70th birthday.  Today is Mother's Day.  Friday will mark the 2 year anniversary of her death.  And Memorial Day is around the corner.  All in the month of May.  This month will always, always be hard. But I suppose that in a way it's a blessing to have all these reminders so close together, if you're the rip-the-bandaid-off-fast kinda person....which generally I'm not.  

Missing her so much that it hurts makes me want to hate this day--like that will make it better.  But really what my heart feels as I type this is so grateful for her life.  She devoted it completely to her family.  She was a wonderful, wonderful mother.  I'm so grateful for her personality, and I wish I possessed more of it.   I'm grateful for her love of music, language, writing, and poetry.  She wrote hundreds, if not thousands, of amazing, published, award-winning poems. And we have them as amazing reminders of her wit and truly beautiful character.  I think of the kind of mother she was and how I long to be as loving and patient with my kids as she was with all seven of hers.   

Oh, I miss her so much.  

But I'm looking at the beautiful letter that Grace wrote me, and I'm thinking of the songs Abby was singing and playing today, and I'm hearing in my mind little Eliza, trying to use the biggest words she knows and I realize that in so many ways my mom is here.  Her legacy lives in my home. 

 And I thank God for that.  

For her.  

For all this giving and loving

Just a few of my favorite poems she wrote....

On Beauty
They put braces on her teeth
            And curlers in her hair
Combating Mother Nature
            With tender, loving care.

Why all the fuss to change
            What chromosomes bequeath?
What’s wrong with hair that’s straight
            And naturally curly teeth?

Melanie, Melanie,
Quite contralenie,    
            How does your tantrum grow?
With a scream and a wail
And fists that flail
            And hopping around on one toe.
Melanie, Melanie,
Quite angelanie,
            How does your loving grow?
With smiles and kisses
For brothers and sisses
            And hugging while standing tiptoe.
Gwabity did it:
            Gwabity told
About all the things
            I climbed up and stoled
From off of the fwidge top
            And put in my pocket
Gwabity told
            Though it couldn’t talk it.
Mama held
            My feet by her hand
While I giggled and giggled
            At upside-down-land.
“Oh, oh,” I said,
            And mama did, too, 
As the pennies and pwetties,
            Away they all flew.
A paper clip here
                                A blue marble there,
And one wubber band
All hid in my hair.
“Gwabity makes
            Things fall,” Mama said,
As the things I had gwabbed
            Fell down wound my head.


There once was a lassie named Cindy
Whose hair seemed to like feeling windy.
            We tried with a comb,
            But it wouldn’t stay home.
The hair of our lovely young Cindy.

Kevin’s Birthday

Diddley, widdely, sciddely-roo,
Anyone knows of a rhyme or two,

Rhinoceri, tigers, or dried-up cocoons,
My nose and eye, ligers, or red-faced baboons.

But twist it or stretch it or try as you may,
Not many can do what I can today.

My name and my age both have the same sound—
Stack them together or turn them around.

So now that it’s true that Kevin is seven,
I’ll shout to the world that seven is Kevin!