Monday, September 22, 2008

Bippity, Boppity, Boo!

"Mom? Are fairies real?"

This is a hard question I got from my 4 1/2 year old the other day. Here are my opposing problems:

1. I can't lie to my kids. I'm not good at it and I don't like it. I can barely do hyperbole ("If you don't eat your peas you will get a vitamin deficiency and die" sort of thing). I'm fine with make believe and pretend but I can't look them in the face and tell them something is true when it isn't. This includes Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Boogie Man.

2. I really, really want them to believe in magic and fairies and wishing on a star and growing up to be a princess, etc. I don't want to jolt them into the adult world of "what you see is what you get" and I don't even believe that completely either. I mean, I can't see God but I know He's real.

So...In classic mom deflection, I said, "I don't know if they are real. What do you think?"

"Well, I don't think magic is really real."

That's it! You are four! C'mon! Suddenly, though, I was able to articulate what I believe. Here's the paraphrase:

I believe there are things that are real that I can't see. I believe in God and His Spirit and angels and demons. I believe another word for "magic" could be "miraculous" and I believe in miracles. There could be fairies or maybe they are fun stories we tell like Santa. I don't know. But I am not going to assume that I have the ability to understand and explain everything in creation. God is magnificent, miraculous and, maybe, just maybe, magical. I mean, He did speak everything into being, right? Talk about saying the magic words!

So, my dear daughter, hold on to unicorns and knights in shining armor. They tell us stories about our hearts and God. Look for the mystic beauty around us and choose to believe in the unseen. Hold on to your imagination, even as you get older and reality comes knocking. I hope for you that you will always have shining eyes filled with faith and wonder as you do now.

OK, I wasn't quite that eloquent. And I think she said, "Oh." But, it really was an "aha!" moment for me. I had never put it together. Hmm, what do you know? I believe in magic. Who'd have thought?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Apparently there are many things within my home that defy description in the English language. I have this conversation at least once a day with my oldest daughter:

Kid: "Mom! Come look at this!"

Me (not moving): "What is it?"

K: "I can't tell you, I have to show you."

M: "Hon, I'm folding laundry (blogging, taking a nap, sitting on the toilet, etc.) right now. Can you tell me about it?"

K: "No! I can't explain it! You have to come see!"

M: "You can't explain it? You've been talking since you were 9 months old! You were talking before you had teeth! You haven't stopped since! You are saying that you are not able to describe what you want me to look at?!?"

K (whining): "Moooommmm! Come see!"

Then I have a choice. Sometimes the nifty thing is a 3-week old scratch or a tiny bug. But, sometimes it is gallons of water the girls have been pouring on the carpet very, very quietly (this happened last week). Do I stop what I'm doing to go check then hope I remember to go back to whatever the task was? Or do I cross my fingers, hoping that it will wait 5 minutes?

It is a "Lady or the Tiger" sort of choice.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Invitation Into Relationship

Because I am not a morning person, I tend to isolate myself during the breakfast hour. I either eat in the car on the way to work (two days a week) or get the girls their breakfast at the table then eat my own checking email.

This morning, my four year old asked, "Mom, would you come eat breakfast with us at the table?" I almost said no then realized what she was doing was initiating with me to have some time with them. Oh, OK.

I would be lying to say that I suddenly became chatty around my peanut butter toast and chocolate milk or that it all went 100% smoothly but....not so bad. I might even do it again....sometime. :D

I'm glad I have children who are learning to ask for what they want. I hope someday they appreciate having a mom who hears them and is willing to stretch a little.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Your Momma!

I had to ask permission to write this blog because it is partly about someone else's mom. It is actually about two of my readers' mom but one of those said readers is very far away and so the other got the weighted vote. The vote-caster said, "Go ahead, she won't read it." So, I will...

I got really hacked off at my friend's mother the other night. Normally this is a right I reserve for my own family but I guess this is a special case.

I have known this family since I was in 6th grade. I was in classes with two of the daughters and their mom was one of my teachers. I spent time at their house, got to know the family pretty well and now one of the daughters is one of my closest friends. So, there is 20 years of history there.

The "hacking off" happened a few weeks ago at my friend's surprise party. I had come with the girls sans husband because he was busy dying of some various plague. It was a pretty small party with no one I knew really well in attendance (we were waiting for the birthday girl and her decoy). I went back to the kid's room to get my girls set up playing with them and there was mom (grandma) orchestrating clean up. No big deal. She was kind of....bossy....about how things should be done but a clean room is fine. I set my kids loose and went to attempt "getting to know you" conversations while we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Conversation wore thin. I went to check on the kids. There was grandma, putting them in the back yard, refusing to let my daughters inside even though one was crying. I diverted the situation by suggesting we feed the 6 children present since it was past dinner time. This directed her energy for a while. But then she was back in force, hovering, clucking, nagging.

The final straw was when she told my older daughter (who hates spicy food), that she had to eat all her dinner or she couldn't have dessert because the spicy Indian food we were eating "Isn't that spicy," IN FRONT OF ME! Urg! At that point I sweetly suggested she go visit with the adults since I was there and could handle it. No dice.

Now, to be fair, I get that, of the 6 children present, 4 of them were her grandchildren. But, also to be fair, two of those kids were mine and I spend lots and lots of time around two more of them. I have a pretty good idea of the household rules for that home and a very good idea of what I do and don't ask of my children.

Since there was no tactful way to win the power struggle, I backed off but was...surly. When older daughter came in afraid because grandma had suggested that the lightning in the sky was dangerous I said something along the line of "Don't listen to her, she doesn't know what she's talking about." I know, not so kind. Like I said, I was feeling surly.

My friend finally came, we yelled "Surprise!", the grown-ups ate and, low and behold, mom had to go because she was tired. Well, no wonder!

OK, OK. I have been doing emotional work long enough to know that this situation wasn't so much about my friend's mom as about me. After the fact, I started thinking about why this bugged me so much. This isn't new behavior from this lady. She is always the one in the kitchen doing the host's dishes or cleaning up. What was this about me?

Click...the light bulb went on. I wanted to be the practical person avoiding relationships. I wanted to be the one who appeared helpful and got to stay comfortable. I wanted an excuse to avoid sitting in the living room making chit-chat with strangers. I was mad because she was taking my spot! If my husband had been there or if I had known more people, I probably wouldn't have minded having a parenting break even if it involved rules for my kids I didn't create.

Ooooh. So much for my uber-pious rationalization that I was protecting my children. I was attempting to protect myself. Hmm.

What I take away from this is, even though I am social, relationship is not always easy for me. I need to be aware of feeling uncomfortable and acknowledge it to myself. When I feel self conscious, my tendency is to go to the practical because I do it well and it hides my heart (not to mention gets me praised most of the time). Maybe sometimes I'll still choose to be with my kids as an out but I need to choose it and not use it as a manipulation and hiding technique. Or, I will choose to take the risk and stay present in an uncomfortable situation.

Oh look! There was a gift in there for me. Drat.