Monday, April 23, 2012

You were my dream (on being a different kind of mom than I ever imagined)

I take pictures of almost everything.  I'm not that good at it and haven't been well enough to take a class, but I believe there are hundreds of stories still needing written in this snapshots I take every single day.  This is a picture of my jewelry box drawer.  I have almost no things that are off limits to my girls, but my jewelry box is sacred ground.  Every once in awhile they will ask to sit on the floor with me and go through piece by piece.  I don't wear hardly any costume jewelry but have over the years collected some meaningful pieces, mostly necklaces, that tell life stories.  We always start with the Peretti gold bean from Tiffany Dan bought me on the first birthday we celebrated while dating.  I wished on that bean we would stay together forever.  We have.  I tell them it is magic, and if they close their eyes tightly and touch it they can wish too.  My bottom drawer is full of little trinkets that are Delaney and Danica's.  They are more important to me than all my necklaces combined.  I have the itty bitty Pooh that finally fell off Delaney's "cheech" blanket,  I have a tiny bracelet that spells "POOTS . . . BRAVE" on it.  Her wrist was so little when all this began.  There's teeth, a hex bug, a vintage polly pocket, diary keys, a ballerina who lost her tutu, a guitar pick, a marble, a squinkie coin and Pascal.  It's like a little drawer of their childhood.  I don't want to lose it, ever. 

I've been thinking so much since returning home from my latest surgery about my own identity.  I feel very lost most days.  I am unable to do even the basic wife and mother kind of duties now.  Dan takes them on without a grumble or a resentment that is nothing short of real true love.  Delaney too has been showing much more responsibility.  Out of all the parts of myself I have surrendered I am most worried about my girls and what they will remember about their mama.  I have been coming to terms with the fact I may never attend school functions or go to the mall with my girls.  I may not ride bikes with them or run beside them.  I may not throw elaborate birthday parties or sleepovers.  Even our favorite "dates" to scour TJ Maxx and Marshalls for clearance treasures are few and far between now because everything makes me sick.  I get sad and lonely when Dan walks out the door on the weekends with them to do something fun.  They call me and text me so I feel like I'm there, but it is not the same.  This is nothing like I ever imagined my life would be, and I am so different than the kind of mom I am on the inside; the mom I was; the mom I long to be.  My body has betrayed me and stolen one of my greatest magic bean wishes. 

If you've never read Kelly Corrigan's little book about motherhood titled "Lift" you should.  You will want to buy two copies because once you've read yours you won't want to part with it, but you will know at least one mom who needs to read it too.  In it she writes,

"I heard once that the average person barely knows ten stories from childhood and those are based more on photographs and retellings than memory. So even with all the videos we take, the two boxes of snapshots under my desk, and the 1,276 photos in folders on the computer, you'll be lucky to end up with a dozen stories. You won't remember how it started with us, the things that I know about you that you don't even know about yourselves. We won't come back here. ....

You'll remember middle school and high school, but you'll have changed by then. You changing will make me change. That means you won't ever know me as I am right now-the mother I am tonight and tomorrow, the mother I've been for the last eight years, every bath and book and birthday party, gone. It won't hit you that you're missing this chapter of our story until you see me push your child on a swing or untangle his jump rope or wave a bee away from his head and think. Is this what she was like with me?"

I have written privately to my girls since they were in my womb in journals I will gift them someday.  Dan too keeps a journal to them.  We have amazing little rituals like writing notes to one another, especially if we are mad, sad or sorry.  We have a treasure box where we keep them all.  I know there are so many things we share that busy "soccer moms" might never get to with their kids.  We snuggle a lot.  We read and talk about what we read.  We collage our visions and hopes and prayers for the seasons in our lives.  We pray.  I have had this fresh perspective on the gifts that are wrapped in ugly packages like chronic illness and pain.  I do believe our slow life, early bedtimes and lots of talking and listening to one another has shaped us.  The compassion I see growing in both my girls for me in my suffering is forming their character. 

Delaney has recently been recognized in several forums for her artistic contributions, kind spirit and perseverance.  This is who my Laney is.  So many nights I prayed she would not become a casualty in this journey.  Early on it was so very hard for her.  God has graciously worked in her heart and brought people into her life who have filled holes and cared for her and nurtured her.  Her clear focus and complete dedication to art is amazing.  I hold my breath when I kiss her on the forehead each night.  I don't want her to forget for even a second in her life how my world turns on her axis.  It's a scary way to love and live.  It's a scary kind of love to receive and reciprocate.  My sister's little baby, Faith, was staying here last week and Delaney said to me as we were all fawning over her, "Mom, I wish you could have another baby."  It's not even a new wound, but it hurts so badly somedays.  She thought for a moment and saw the pain in my face and continued, "I know . . . you would have miscarried anyways."  Her brutal understanding about my body and my past at her age made me comforted.  Sometimes with kids you never know what they are processing or internalizing.  One thing Delaney and I have always done is talked frankly.  I could see the fruits of this, and it gave me peace. 

On Saturday I went out by myself for an hour to a cute little shop here in Hartville.  I have been wanting a vintage typewriter for a long time now.  I found one there.  It was perfect in every way, and I bought it.  I rearranged my desk to include this new find.  Later in the day Delaney and I sat on the floor here in my room, and I showed her the teacher gifts I had been working on for this week's teacher appreciation.  She loved the way I mixed items and colors and ribbon.  She looked in my eyes with her big baby blues and said, "I am just like you mom."  I told her to go look at my desk and see what I bought.  She screamed.  I went out, and she was crying.  My nine year old didn't think it was weird or creepy at all.  She was in love with my find.  She told me all the things God knew my heart needed to here about how she gets her eye for design and color from me.  Oh, and she loves me and is so glad I am her mom. 

Heart swell. 

Danica's love has been palpable as well.  Several nights last weeks she would say things to me about wanting to stay four so she would always be able to sit in my lap and snuggle at night.  Her little voice trembling she would tell me, "Mom, I have to just stay like this.  I don't want to grow up."  Not a day passes she does not make me a note or a drawing of her and I together with some of the first words she can write by herself, "I LOVE YOU MOM.  DANICA"  I don't want to throw them away.  Any of them.  Every single prayer she says these words, "Dear Jesus, Thank you for this day (Yesterday she opened one eye and looked at me, "Mom, should I say thank you for this day even though it's raining?").  Please help my mom to feel better.  Please help daddy to get home safely. (If sissy is at school she asks for her safety as well.)  Thank you for this food.  Amen."  Her evening prayers include someone we pick from our prayer bucket, a little bucket with names of people we know and love (and some we don't know) written on popsicle sticks.  Otherwise they are almost word for word the same, minus the food gratitude.  Last night as we spooned under her warm covers she chatted about her future.  I know she's only four, but she thinks about it.  She said, "I decided not to be a brain doctor or a fashion designer in Paris.  I just want to be a mom like you."  Tears ran down my face as I explained she could be a brain doctor, design clothes and be a mommy but being a mommy is the best. 

I mess up a lot with my girls.  I'm selfish.  I yell.  I am lazy about discipline.  I am tired all the time, and I let it show.  I hurt all the time, and I talk about it.  I yell.  I say "no" way more than "yes."  I put on a DVD way too often when I need to just rest.  I feel guilty.  I am a martyr but not in a good way.  I say I'm sorry a lot.  I pray with them when we get upset and angry.  I put on soft piano music and we all relax and become kinder.  We do art.  A LOT.  We write letters and notes.  We snuggle.  A LOT.  We read.  We dream really big dreams.  We talk about them and believe in them just like we do our God. 

I am many things.  I am a child of God.  I am a wife.  I am a sister.  I am a friend.  I am a sinner.  I am a saint.  I am a daughter.  I am a writer.  I am a grandaughter.  I am an interior designer.  I am a patient.  Over and over again I am a patient.  He also made me a mother.  The most important thing I have ever been entrusted with are these two girls with souls. 

Kelly writes towards the end of her book,

"I think about your futures a lot. I often want to whisper to you, when we're tangled up together or I'm pinning your poetry to the bulletin board or repositioning the pillow under your head so you don't get a crick. Remember this. This is what love feels like. Don't take less. But what I end up saying is "This was my dream. You were my dream." I've said it too many times though; now when I look at you all soft and gushy and say "Guess what?" You say "This was your dream. I was your dream."

1 comment:

  1. Your girls are extremely lucky to have you as their mama. You are an amazing soul and nothing can change that...nothing physical, anyways. Thank you for sharing this. Love.