I wrote this six years ago, in the fall of 2007 when it was just Alex and Lila:
He’s pushing trucks around the house, hiding in duffle bags, zooming over the arms of the sofa, making squealing noises as they try to stop before diving nose first down behind the television. And tonight as I make dinner, he’s playing at my feet in the kitchen. A big dump truck and a small white truck. The big truck is named “Big Truck” and the little white one is “Fire Truck”, he tells me this as I stir the tomato sauce. Ah, I say. So, Big and Fire are their names?
He looks at me, but only briefly before disappearing back into his little world of trucks, swirling at my feet.
I hear their conversations and feel almost guilty for eavesdropping.
Hi. Big says to Fire.
Hi. You come with me? Fire asks.
I too big. Big says.
You can do it. Fire says.
And they ride down the length of the kitchen, hopping through the legs of a kitchen chair and then meeting up again beside the wainscoting.
Woo-hoo, Fire says to Big, cheering him on – You did it!
Later, he’s jumping in his room – up and down on his bed, his face bobbing in and out of sight of our neighbors as he moves in front of the window.
My goodness, he says to something happening outside – a loud truck rumbling past, an altercation between neighborhood kids, something I can not see or hear. But he says it again, My goodness. Not upset with anything, simply an expression of bemusement. Much like how I say the phrase at the end of a long day.
I stand in the doorway and listen to him, it’s the first expression of mine that I’ve heard him repeat.
It’s been weighing on me a lot lately, stressing me out. This idea that somehow I’m doing something wrong, damaging his childhood in some way or another. Snapping at him for not eating all of his dinner, for whining, for taking off his pull-up and peeing on the floor rather than telling me he needs to use the potty. Lots of things have been breaking me quickly lately, lack of sleep, being the primary culprit.
But still, each night I go to sleep wondering if all of my love and attention has somehow outweighed my momentary lapses of mommy-loveliness. The times when I’m raw and irritated and hissing through my teeth that we listen when Mommy tells us to pick up our toys. I pray that somehow these moments of failure, of weakness, of letting myself put myself before others, won’t have an impact on how he treats others, how he sees the world, how he deals with frustration and anger.
I just don’t want to mess him up, I guess, is all I’m saying.
And so to see him today, mimicking encouraging behavior with his toys – and repeating something like “my goodness” with a quiet bemusement at his window – I sighed with a bit of relief.
It’s a long road between here and adulthood, and it’s going to be a process for all of us, going through it together for the first time. I’m just glad to be assured that, if nothing else, for right now, in this moment, the good stuff is sticking.
And now, here we are again. It’s Autumn and though our family has grown and life has changed in more ways than one, the ongoing theme of my heart remains.
I just don’t want to mess him (them) up.
This past week has been a settling in, into this new routine, into our roles as teacher and students, mother and children, but in different and wonderful ways.
I have spent more time this week, fully engaged, with each one of the children than I can remember happening in the recent (post my business taking off) past. All summer long, we were like passing ships, waving and calling to one another through the slapping open and close of the screen door.
This summer, I spent hours in the morning responding to emails and frantically working on editing, communicating with clients, catching up with friends, living an existence that has largely been like a play with my children as background chatter rather than full-on speaking parts.
This week, this time of settling in, has been at a slower pace, at a pace that reminded me of how we once were. How I once was, as a mom, not as a momtreprenuer. My children are again relying on me, for routine, for education, for guidance, and I have become more free to offer my distracted self.
We’re finding out how well we work together, when we do just that. Work. Together.
I’m remembering that crafts and observations, just for the pure sake of creativity or wonder – is – learning (and is fun.)
And I’m finding myself still falling asleep with my children’s needs on my heart, but sleep is coming easier. Perhaps, because I’m feeling more as though have run the daily race with them, encouraging them, getting to know them as the amazing people that they are, rather than standing at the finish line, eyes on the clock, mind elsewhere, just waiting for them to wash their hands and get to the supper table on time.