Then I was packing my work bag – After my daughter had thrown a complete fit because I dripped water on a very important piece of paper she left lying in the middle of her bedroom floor – After I failed to keep my scowls and growls to myself – After I stripped the beds, threw sheets into the washer, and mopped the bathroom floor – the bathroom where the door knob had fallen off during a play-date the day before.
I was pulling papers out of my work bag, throwing them away, gathering all our bills into a rubber band to pay online at lunchtime because lunchtime in the office I share with other people is the closest I have lately to alone-time and for some reason I feel that paying bills requires this: Alone-time.
So there I was fuming, and I pulled out a set of stickers – those random stickers the school photographer sends home to up-sell families on stuff – those stickers that last year or the year before were plastic bookmarks instead – those stickers you get whether you want them or not but if you don’t send them back to school the next day intact, you have to pay for them. Those stickers. I held my daughter’s Fall 2012 picture-on-a-sticker in my hand.
She and my partner had just left for school and the house was strangely quiet. I held my daughter’s picture in my hand and I knew that I was going to have to make it work – this blogging, writing, parenting, everyday living thing. I just knew.
See, I don’t know how other moms find time to write and make it funny. Or poignant. Or useful. Entertaining. Something someone else may want to read. I really don’t. I don’t know how they do this and raise their children into gentle loving people, too. And cook. And keep the house sparkly clean. And jog maybe? Some moms do that. I’ve seen them. But I don’t know how they do it. All that, and work every day for a paycheck, too? Impossible. Right? There is so much evidence out there to the contrary – so many mom bloggers having it all, or looking like they do anyway. These moms are not me.
I am not that mom.
I find parenting a tween hard. Really hard. You get all this hype about the Terrible Twos – which for us were idyllic really, and I thought my life as a mom was charmed – and you hear horror stories about the teenage years. But tweens? Angelic, right?
Here’s the deal:
One minute, my darling daughter is on my lap kissing my hand and holding it against her cheek, radiating love from every pore of her body.
The next, she’s screeching that I don’t understand her, that no one understands her, that it’s not fair when she’s been nice to me all day and it’s not her fault. She’s slamming doors and stomping out of sight because I suggested that writing “1/2” as the answer for twelve consecutive math problems was not showing her best effort.
When she’s calm, we talk with her about big feelings, about how to express them without hurting anyone.
When she’s not, her big feelings bring out ours. I suppose it happens this way in every house along the block, but I only live in this one.
I remember stomping down the hallway hundreds of times in my parents’ house, slamming my bedroom door, turning the music up loud, but I don’t remember starting this young. I know for sure my mother never blogged about it.
So I thought about shutting this blog down today, saying, “Closed for repairs” or just “Closed.” I still might; I may need to. But not today.
I stood there with my little girl’s picture in my hand and I stuck it to the inside cover of my journal – because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past nine years watching my baby grow, it’s this: When I focus on her, eventually I know what to do. Because – shhhhhh! – don’t tell her – but when it comes down to it, for better or for worse, my little girl’s raising me, too.
So I don’t know why and I don’t know how, but looking at her, I know I must write every week to keep myself sane. To be the best mom I can be. To untangle the knots of the week gone by. To find balance. To remain honest.
And maybe sometimes: To find out if any one of you has been here, too.