I know I'm a good mother and when I'm in the zone, my daughter benefits from a creative, attentive, fun-loving, participatory mama. I take her teacher play seriously. When she says that she's made class rules for her classroom and needs to laminate them, I'm the mom who makes a run to Office Max. I play cooking show with her. I talk to the imaginary camera with a straight face. I let her tape signs to our front window for months even when the tape's goo sticks to the window. I don't know yet how I'm going to remove it. And I'm not concerned. Her art easel is now at her dad's house. This has hampered her ability to “teach her students” so I've bought a white board to install on the wall in our basement, so the teaching environment can be restored. These are just a few examples of when my parenting is rocking.
But my introversion often blocks that flow and when that happens I feel awful. Today, I'm sad. My grandma has died. She was a friend and a cheerleader and I am feeling her absence acutely. I want, nay, need, to be sad on my terms. I want to cry without my child asking what's wrong? and why I am sad? I don't want to have to be the tour guide through all of my emotions. On other days, yes. But not today.
I want to answer her questions with gentleness and patience. Not the short clip in my voice.
That's what she's getting today.
When my Dad was in ICU nearly four years ago, I flew to Michigan alone. For those several days, I got to concentrate on being a daughter and a bereft one. I am so glad that my daughter is with me for my grandmother's funeral. I want her to have a healthy understanding of death and how it is a natural part of the life cycle. That our faith in God builds in a margin of comfort to make the unknown a little less frightening. I want to be THAT mama.
But today I need to mourn solo.
I don't want her to remember me in these moments. I don't want this aspect of my mothering to send her to therapy in 20 years.
As I type this at the desk in our hotel room, she's sitting on the bed. She's reading from the hotel amenities book into the phone conducting business as the front desk person at Comfort Inn and SUITS. I love hearing her play and her mispronunciation. But her voice is too loud. Her inclination for cabin fever strike in an instant and then we're both miserable. I can't seem to entice her to be quiet and still. And why should I? She's EIGHT. We've been to the breakfast room three times. I've relented because, well, it's easier than hearing her whine.
Do you hear the whine in my voice? It's there and I hate it. A friend texted me this morning, “God is right there with you. It's okay to not be okay.” How did he know I needed those words?
Today is calling me to be gentle with myself. And with my daughter. We'll see how that goes. Wish me luck.