So can we have some real talk?
When my daughter was born, I struggled long and hard about what we’d do when I went back to work. Before getting pregnant, I was adamant about staying home with her until she was two years old and talking. In other words, until she could say, “Mommy, *insert name of any pedophile* touched my boo-boo.” But unfortunately, our circumstances at the time didn’t allow for me to stay home for longer than six months.
We initially hired a nanny (who I’m certain was driven to drink by me), but after a few months, we needed to place our sweet child in—cue horror music—day care. It was truly a crisis for me. I promise you, it was.
Yet, now that we have found a great school for my daughter, I have to admit something to you:
I need her to be there at least four days a week (Fridays are Mommy and Daughter days).
No, wait. Maybe you don’t understand me. I REALLY need her to be there ALL FOUR DAYS.
Yes, I feel a tremendous amount of guilt about feeling this way. I realize that even saying something like this in a public forum puts me in position for Mommy-shaming. And I know I should absolutely love and adore spending every waking moment with my gregarious toddler. In fact, sometimes, I really do. She’s beautiful and smart and playful and…well, just a wonderful, fascinating person.
But then there are the other times. Times like this past Tuesday when the little miss and I were snowed in together while an allegedly large snowstorm hit the Northeast.
You see, I think “The Wheels on The Bus” is a fantastic song—the first ten times we sing it. The next hundred? Not so much.
And while I think smashed mac-n-cheese on hardwood floors could very well become the next trend in interior design, I prefer a more traditional look.
Oh, and trust me, I think the Sprout Channel is the best thing since sliced bread, but after too much of it, I begin to fantasize about what it would be like to put Caillou in a Hunger Games-like match against the Cookie Monster or Kipper the Dog.
And I’m fairly certain that my daughter could care less about the two manuscripts and one editing project I have to complete by the end of the year. But until she can become my editor, I’m going to have to dig into her flash card time.
This is my truth.
And yet, as He usually does, God showed me a greater truth on Tuesday. A truth I could have only discovered by “suffering” through crushed cookies, nursery rhymes, Caillou, and flash cards. A truth that would reveal to me the significance of this time spent with my child and the importance of monitoring my responses to her in the midst of it.
I was in the kitchen preparing dinner when I screamed, “Ahhhhhhhhh!” I’d dropped a pot on my foot. My whole, entire foot.
The next thing I heard was the quick pitter-pattering of little feet as my daughter ran into the kitchen to see about me.
“You ‘kay, Mommy?”
“I’m alright, Sweetie.”
She moved closer to me. This kid’s discernment is ridiculous.
“Yes, Kayla. I’m alright.”
Then she did it.
She bent down to investigate the injury. As she looked at it, she put her hand on my toes and said, “In Jesus Name, Amen.” Then she kissed my foot.
I looked at her and smiled. “All better, Sweets.”
Pit, pat, pit, pat. She ran back into the living room to finish watching Calliou or drop some cookies or color on my walls or sing her favorite song for the thousandth time.
And none of that mattered to me anymore as I stood there with tears in my eyes.
Her actions were a glimpse into who she is—who she was becoming. Sure, I’ve done the same thing for her when she’s had a “boo-boo.” But she knew how and when to reciprocate the love. The fact that it was the proper context and that I had been feeling “some kind of way” all day moved her actions out of the realm of just a child mimicking her Mommy. Her compassion was becoming second nature to her.
You see, the truth is, if we’re all honest, it can be very tough to reconcile the needs of our careers and our roles as wives/ husbands and mothers/ fathers, with the needs of our children. That’s real. And it certainly can be easy to say, “Naw, they need to go to school today because I have to do blah, blah, and blah…”
But there are moments when we must, must, must stop and remind ourselves that we are building the characters of our children. We are ghostwriting the stories of people who will one day run our world. They are NOT an inconvenience.
Mr. Weatherman says another storm is coming our way this weekend.
And yes, I have a million and one things to do.
But only one thing really matters.
* * *
This post is the latest in Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Faith & Motherhood” series.
Tracey Michae'l is a writer and educator based out of the Philadelphia area. She is a wife to William and a mother to a beautiful two-year old little girl. You can find her on the web at www.traceymlewis.com.