I’m always seeking help and advice from those I love and trust on this journey we call motherhood. Sometimes its out of growth and other times out of desperation. And every time I’m left with the same realization: There’s no way to be a perfect mother. Have you met a perfect mother? I haven’t. There’s plenty of women I admire as mothers, but they’re not perfect. Yet when I look at myself as a mother, I tend to hold myself to a higher standard. I expect more of myself. Which of course just lends itself to disappointment.
Instead of perfection, I’m working on being a good mother – even a great mother! A mother who prayerful and deliberately makes decisions for and with my children. I often remind my children that I’m doing my best and that they didn’t come with a single set of instructions. Even sippy cups come with instructions! But I love them more than anyone else and that makes me a good mother. Usually they agree with me – although there has been an occasional, “You are not a good mother to me” yelled as they ran up the stairs. It’s usually in those moments that I’m reminded I’m doing something right!
They say you never know for sure that you’re done having kids, but chances are you know in your heart when you’re done and both Steve and I felt that with Briggs.
We also let the kids know that this baby with be the caboose to our family. Which is why Hallie more than anything was hoping for a sister, she knew it was her last chance. Her disappointment was visible and it was heartbreaking to see her having a hard time. Shortly after we found out another boy would be joining the family, I made it a goal to go through the bins of girls clothes we had stored in the attic. I had been hanging on to this clothing since Hallie was a baby. Never did it cross my mind, in my young and naive state, that Hallie would be my only daughter. Obviously, I wouldn’t have held on to that clothing for that long had I known otherwise.
I went through bin after bin of clothing and aside from a few special pieces, I donated the contents.
One afternoon, Hallie came into the laundry room and saw me drowning in pink clothing. She recognized some of it from pictures we have of her wearing the clothing. This is how our conversation went down:
Hallie: What are you doing?
Kara: Just going through this clothing so we can give it to someone who needs it.
Hallie: But what if we need it?
Kara: Oh honey, we’re not going to need any of this for a boy.
Hallie: But what if we have another baby?
Kara: I don’t think that’s going to happen, and even if we did – chances are it would be a boy too!
She looked around the room and left. I started talking to her as she walked away and I could tell she didn’t hear me. I went to find her and found the bathroom door shut. When she walked out a minute later, her eyes were red and swollen.
We talked. The fact that this baby was a boy cut her deep and she was having a hard time accepting the fact that she would never have a sister. I asked what would make her feel better. She asked if she could go through the clothing with me and keep some of the clothing to give to her daughter someday. It was a great idea.
I probably went through 7 or 8 bins of clothing before Briggs was born, knowing very well there was more in the attic I hadn’t touched.
This week, I completed the task. I went through the last 5 bins of girls clothing. And out of 5 bins – this is what I kept:
A couple dresses I made and a few other pieces that Hallie can remember wearing. There were moments of nostalgia as I touched each piece checking for stains before being donated. I could picture Hallie in almost every single item of clothing and we’ve got more than enough pictures as evidence. It was quite therapeutic for both of us to sift and sort and talk. And now we’re done.
We kept a little, we donated a lot. I now have stacks of empty pink bins and a lot more attic space that needs to be used!
I love seeing her at the piano. However, she doesn’t love being at the piano. She started lessons a few years back and loved them for the first year. As the songs grew harder, she didn’t like it nearly as much. I saw myself in her. I played piano as a kid and the older I got, the more I fought my time at the piano. Yet, as an adult I wish I was much better. I wish I had stuck with it. Isn’t that always the case?
Hallie stopped taking formal lessons (it’s hard to keep paying for something when you know your kid isn’t loving it) and I started going through the songs with her on my own. We’re moving at a much slower pace but we’re making progress. The hard part is she’s good. She’s got the rhythm and she picks up the songs quickly. I think that’s why it’s so hard to see her not love it. And she does enjoy it – once she has the song down. It’s the process of learning the song (which is a day or two!) that she doesn’t enjoy. But she’s being a good sport and still going through the books. I keep telling her years from now she’ll be sitting at the piano with her daughter who wants to quit and she’ll encourage her to keep going. With a smile on her face she replied, “I sure hope I don’t do this to my daughter!”
We went on a family walk to an area that overlooked the city. It was dark and all the kids could see was the city lights in the far distance. They couldn’t see the canal several feet away. They couldn’t see the brush directly in front of them. Bennett was in awe of the view and innocently said, “You can see the whole world from here.”
After that night each time we went on a family walk, Bennett asked if we could go to the place to see the world. We’ve seen the “world” several times since then and each time Bennett is just as impressed as the first time. As far as he’s concerned, the view in front of him is the world. It’s Arizona and Idaho and China all together, and he can see it all.
I didn’t burst his bubble. And you know what – one day he’ll look over that same ridge and he’ll no longer think its the world. Not that anyone has to tell him, he’ll just know. In fact, he’ll probably forget that he ever thought it was the world. But I’ll remember. I want to remember. I want to remember his perspective at this age.
Sometimes I want to bottle a feeling. A smell. A smile.
I’ve had many people tell me with this baby – enjoy it, it goes by too quickly. I know they’re right. I know one day I’ll look back with fondness. Which is why I want to bottle some of those senses. Senses I’m too overwhelmed and tired to enjoy right now.
Because the days are long and tiring and at times I find myself wishing the hours away. It will be better when Steve gets home from work. It will be better when the baby sleeps through the night. It will be better when he can dress himself. It will be better when he goes to school.
And yet I see the mothers with all their kids in school and they look at my sweet boy and ask to hold him so they can remember what it feels like to hold a baby. I’m sure holding him takes them back to their young mothering days. And at that point its easier to remember all the sweet and tender moments instead of all the craziness and tiring days.
Why is it so hard to enjoy where we’re at? Why must I sufficiently pass a stage before looking back at it with appreciation?
Look at this guy – he’s so little and perfect and so dang cute. His smile melts me.
Give me a bottle. I’m going to want to remember him just like this. Minus the throwing up. That’s a smell I have no interest in preserving.