Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Turning Pages

I'm not sure where to begin. So much has happened, so much good and so much sadness. We've lost a few people in our lives, which has been harder as Mom and Dad to little ones than as ourselves grieving the loss. Two of our kids are particularly sensitive, and nothing feels so helpless as watching a beautiful, sweet soul become so painfully aware of death. One cries openly and takes comfort in faith. The other, too little to be so philosophical, makes the uncertainty known with "what-if" questions and the desire for more attachment. All four of the "bigs" seek normalcy and stability and are a little more aware that life isn't always protected by love.

Scott mentioned that this is the place we are in our lives, the place of losing people we love, grieving the loss and being forced to march forward in love and light for the little people who watch so carefully. I don't think either of us was prepared for this level of unselfishness. How does anyone put aside grief and fear of our own mortality? I can't answer for anyone else, but the smooth round cheeks and big shining eyes of my children help. The idea that I want their last memories of me to be those of a patient and generous soul helps too. However, even that thought can stir up resentment that I feel such pressure to be perfect out of fear. It's a question that has no answer except to continue on trying to be better at everything, even grief.

********************

I just read this and this. It struck me right down to the marrow of my bones. Mae is love and light. She is one of they, as in, "They are so sweet!" While she can snap like the best toddler with a, "Don't touch me!" babble and finger wag at the Costco employee who couldn't resist, she is mostly Madame Mayor complete with parade float wave. The worst part, for me, is the constant need not to make a fuss. Everyone wants to give her what she wants, thinks she is so cute and chastises me for being strict. I don't want to fight with everyone. Also, she's not even two. But then again, she's almost two and she acts like it in part because we don't treat her differently. (Also because she was born contrary.)

All of that has been running through my mind while we've been in the midst of another tooth-a-thon. Mae is getting two more molars. (How many can she get at this age?!) She is also battling a cold, so it's Congestion Junction up in this house. During such times she can go rather dormant and just want to be cared for, held and sleep. I've rocked her so much the last few days I find myself rocking in four legged chairs just out of habit. Therapy was a disaster this week, but for one thing the OT said. Mae was doing cold water therapy, because swim lessons are on the horizon, and she was having none of it. It was not defiance so much as she just didn't have it in her. Mrs. A wrapped her up in a towel and she rocked her. Eventually Mae slid off and toddled over to Mr. M, her official favorite, and snuggled him. It was then Mrs. A told me that sometimes this is better than therapy. When it's clear that therapy isn't going to be effective, nurturing that relationship can serve to show Mae that they care for her. In short, snuggling is therapy too.

I love that last sentence. Most days I'm running around analyzing my children and their needs. These last few weeks, with the deaths and the illnesses and the excitement of basketball and a birthday and a visit from grandparents, I've noticed who is in a good groove and who needs a little extra attention. What I have noticed most is that each of the five needs more snuggling. When I've made a point to pull them in they get a little steadier for the next few moments, and so do I. Snuggle therapy has been added to the routine. After all, life is therapy, and life is so much better with lots of snuggles.

****************

Molly is brilliant. I don't say that to brag, that child is something special as it is. I say it because people other than me are starting to notice, and I only began noticing this year. Shoot, two  years ago I was considering holding her back in pre-K. Thank goodness her teacher knew my concerns were a matter of Molly's reluctant work ethic rather than her ability to do. This year at her conferences her teacher expressed some concerns about Molly keeping up when things got a bit more challenging. I didn't say it then, but I was thinking, "She's smarter than you think." I knew her teacher was exactly where I was two years ago. I discovered something this school year: Molly will work to reach a goal, but will never work to avoid negative consequences. When I realized this, I have to admit, I was thrilled. I used to worry about this girl and her apparent lack of desire. There was the greatest sense of relief once I realized she was lacking passion because she was lacking motivation. 

The battle, of course, has been to discover what inspires her. We tried money, but Molly isn't one of those kids who can earn a penny-per-task and extrapolate that into saving for, say, ice cream on Saturday. (She was getting a penny for everything, from brushing her teeth to getting dressed to emptying her backpack. You bet she could earn enough for a little $1.25 container of Hagaan Daaz.) So, we moved on to a big chocolate bar. That worked. For 7 days she was compliant and helpful, two adjectives that would formerly be in the "antonym" category for Molly Descriptors. (Not that she is bratty! Molly's awesome at flying under the radar and not being confrontational, but also, not doing as asked. When asked why she didn't do something, her frequent reply was, "I forgot." and walk away.) Since that experiment I noticed her presence more when it's time to clean up, and I notice a happy patience when she has to wait for what she requested. Molly's a quick study, that's for sure. It's really too bad her Mommy is so slow on the uptake. 

********************

Ten. Kate is now ten. I can see that we are on the cusp, that the tears come a little too easily, but the sweetness is closer to the surface too. I see the posture changing, the verbage evolving and the ability to weigh outcomes maturing. She's so pretty and completely clueless and a little awkward. She doesn't like boys yet either, but I know she won't volunteer the information when she starts. Her cheeks are still full, but her jaw is a little more defined. 

She's asking questions, great ones. Often I'm not prepared to answer her, but I tell her and she understands. Sometimes you want to be careful about your words and string them in a way that makes sense. She gives me space to think about it. She cares about her friends a little too much, and she's starting to protect her siblings by helping them with their messes before I see them. I catch her absently stroking the dog while reading and am caught by the beauty of the moment she won't remember.

Her room has been painted and changed, she has her "space" carved out with her own desk. She does her homework in her bedroom now, with her sister at the desk next to her and the door shut. She remembers to shut off the light sometimes, and she asks to vacuum on ocassion. 

A decade of raising a baby into a toddler into a little girl into a girl. What's next is so close I can feel its presence and see flashes of it in her tilted head and her furrowed brow. For now she is just a girl, a magnificent and perfect girl. The old preschool song is wrong. 3 isn't the magic number, though there is a magic number, and it's 10.


1 comment:

  1. "Everyone wants to give her what she wants, thinks she is so cute and chastises me for being strict." This is so difficult...but it's better to figure out you're being manipulated when she's two and not when she's eighteen...that's what I figure about realizing it when my girl's seven!

    ReplyDelete