Last week T.Puzzle’s teacher approached me for a conference. The thing about conferences is that they usually doesn’t consist of the teacher listing all the ways your kid is truly outstanding. As I entered the school building for the impending conference, I had a feeling she wouldn’t share anything with me that I didn’t on some level, already know. Basically, he speeds through everything, oversimplifies and isn’t interested in expounding on anything, ever. Pretty typical stuff for a kindergartener, but as his classmates are slowing down and answering questions in more detail, he is fine to zip through his schoolwork at a breakneck pace (Full Speed, Jr., anyone?). There’s not much to be done except encourage him to slow down as he does tasks at home and try to prompt more than one-word answers from him (Mad Dog, Jr., anyone?).
The hardest part of this conference day is that all I really wanted to do was call my Mom to talk about it. She was always the perfect combination of empathic listener with a good dose of pragmatism. She had a way of putting things in perspective while taking into consideration my extremely sensitive nature.
I miss that.
I miss her.
Of course she is on the forefront of my mind as Mother’s Day approaches. All I can do is remember a conversation I had with her shortly before she passed. She told me l knew her well enough that if I ever needed her advice when she was gone, I could imagine what she would tell me and I’d be exactly right.
So? What would she tell me? That T.Puzzle is brilliant, charming and handsome. She’d tell me that he’s an extremely active boy who would rather play soccer than sit still, write sentences or answer questions. She would tell me that I’m a great Mom and it’s only kindergarten. She’d tell me to focus on the good stuff the teacher said like how T.Puzzle is respectful to his classmates and his teachers. She’d tell me that when he’s CEO of a Fortune 500 company or president of the United States, that how he behaved in kindergarten won’t matter. It matters only to his future first grade teacher and first grade is months away. A lot can change over a summer and be patient. It will all work out just fine.
Moms don’t really get the credit they deserve. There isn’t actually any quantifiable way to say we are successfully raising our kids. How much are we, as Moms, responsible for the successes and the failures of our kids? At what point do we stop shaping our children’s outcomes and allow them to take personal responsibility for themselves and their own actions? Even into adulthood, are Moms responsible when a grown child isn’t reaching their full potential?
I don’t have the answers. I do know that motherhood can be extremely rewarding but mostly on an intrinsic level. Sure, we have Mother’s Day but in general, our hard work and dedication is rarely recognized on an external level. This really isn’t such a bad thing. I believe life is about being your personal best and if the world sees it, great, and if it doesn’t, that’s okay, too. All that really matters is how you, and you alone feel about the way you are living your life. It also helps if on occasion, your kid says or does something that warms your heart.
Full Speed explained to me that he learned about ‘filling other people’s buckets’ at school. Essentially, by acknowledging others, you ‘fill their bucket’ with kindness and appreciation. He took these words to heart. He told me as he walked over to meet me, that he shared with the crossing guard that he was a ‘really good crossing guard’. Full Speed also plans to tell the lunch ladies on Monday that they are doing ‘a really great job.’
I may not get trophies or a big paycheck honoring the work I do as a mother, but after I listened to Full Speed I thought, “Wow, maybe I had a little something to do with the making of this remarkable kid.”
This is the third anniversary of when my Mom passed away. I would like to think that somehow losing a loved one gets easier. It does not. It only changes inside you. The loss becomes a permanent part of your soul. It never leaves you.
I miss having her in my world. I miss having that reassurance that she would always be there and that more importantly, she would listen to me and truly care about what I had to say.
Isn’t that what anyone wants? To be heard, to be seen and to be truly, truly loved. Imagine if everyone in the world had access to that kind of love. The bad days would be bearable, the sweet days would be more so and we’d all be a little bit kinder to ourselves and to each other.
Each day is a new opportunity to learn about ourselves. I learned so very much from my own mother. Some of the lessons were easy and beautiful. Some of the lessons were not.
In the end the most important lesson I learned from my Mom is that it all comes down to forgiveness.
No one is ever going to be perfect and that’s okay. Perfect doesn’t teach us a thing. Real life, real love and real relationships do.
My Mom and I saw each other as we really are and still loved each other anyway. That’s the real deal.
I am having many mixed feelings about Full Speed’s sixth birthday today. I am excited for him and happy his remarkable growth and change are being marked in such a celebratory way. The challenge is not having my Mom here to help me celebrate or to share in all the wonderful milestones Full Speed has achieved in the past year.
It was hard enough that she wasn’t here to offer support and guidance when he started kindergarten. Now, with each passing year, Full Speed is growing into who he is meant to be and she won’t be able to see it. I wish she could because this kid is only getting better with age.
As the distance grows from the last point in which my Mom was in my life, it is ever more shocking to my system that she really isn’t coming back.
I’d also like to apologize to Mad Dog for my extra crazy, unpredictible moods as of late. I am in the last stages of processing my Mom’s absence and while I will never fully let her go, I will move forward in a more even-handed manner. I promise.
All I can do is my absolute best. I will celebrate the good times in my present and honor the sadness as it floats up from my past.
I am grateful for the time that I had with my Mom. I believe the joy I have managed to create in my own little corner of the world is possible through her choices and example. I watched and I learned. I made some different choices of my own. Most importantly, I was loved.
The goal in writing this blog is to give some much needed observatory distance from the chaos that is my every day life. It helps if I take a moment to reflect on the day’s events and allows me to be a more accepting person/Mom. I have grown leaps and bounds in acceptance but there are still times when I find myself holding my breath and wishing that my boys were a tad bit calmer than they actually are.
It just ain’t so.
I had high expectations for our family movie night viewing of ‘Hoosiers‘. While I am at heart a true girlie girl, I appreciate good sports and I adore a good sports movie. This particular movie is very special to me. I vividly remember going with my Mom to see it and we bonded tremendously over the nail-biting basketball sequences and rooting for the underdog. I truly felt like my mother’s daughter after this experience. She, the lover of all things basketball, realized that maybe I wasn’t only all about lip-gloss and hairspray.
I prepared myself that the boys would lose interest in about the first five minutes of the movie. Despite this mental preparation I couldn’t help but ‘wish’ that they would sit quietly for its duration and maybe even love it a little, too.
Thankfully, it exceeded my expectations. Granted, T.Puzzle fell asleep because the movie had a late start, but Full Speed was riveted.
Maybe there’s more to each of us than we realize.
If we learn to let go of what we think people should be, they might just surprise us and be exactly who we need.