On Patrick’s Pants, Bad Mothers, and Grace

My left eye lid is twitching. It’s done this on and off all day. One the many benefits of working for a company that allows employees time with their families is, well, time with my family. But then I come back to work and most everyone else is still gone, and that makes for a long day. I probably have permanent marks in my butt from the pattern on my chair. Or maybe my eye lid is twitching because it’s the last official day of Winter Break for the kids, or maybe because someone actually meant it when they said, please don’t sleep in your contacts (rules are for other people, I believe this firmly).

Most days I’m pretty sure I’m doing it all wrong. In the face of other’s losses and pleas I feel like I am the least deserving person there ever was to play this role, like it really is not fair when all I want to do is watch a Downton Abbey marathon and here are these people I birthed wanting my attention. I will spare you nothing, no truth is too truthy for me.

I am plagued by the same (I hope) feelings of self doubt that most of us are. I should probably spend more time reading to my girls, we should eat dinner all together all the time (never mind the fact that the adult faction is rarely starving at 5pm and even if we were starving wouldn’t want to eat what the kids eat. This is a very long sentence inside of here, but yes, I do quite often make two dinners and no, I don’t usually mind it, don’t judge me). We should somehow save up a million dollars and travel to England or Disney or something. I’m short and irritable  when I don’t mean to be. And here is some more nice transparency for you: We yell at our house. A LOT. And we are sarcastic. I guess that we show our love and our feelings in ways that are different, I think most families differ in this, and that’s ok.

While I cooked the bacon for our BLTs tonight Avery wanted to pway with me. Then she put on her new fleece Granny got her for Christmas and went out to the garage to help daddy, who didn’t particularly feel he needed Ave’s brand of help with sharp saws running and hammers hammering. Kaia was in the shower with the door locked, and Ave was at loose ends. So I spied her coloring book on the floor and asked, do you want to color with me while I make dinner? She thought that was a lovely idea.

We parked ourselves at the dining room table and she colored Spongebob and I colored My Little Pony. There isn’t a need to really chat when coloring, it’s more of an experience that is had silently, except for, are you done with the yellow? Or, can I use the purple? . Kaia got out of the shower and wanted to color too. So she tore out a page from My Little Pony and she and Ave discussed what color Rarity is, how the rainbow is divided up in Rainbow Dash’s mane, what color Spongebob’s belt should be and if Patrick has stars or flowers on his pants.

We spoke kindly and quietly to each other.

I really like the mane you colored, mom.

Well done Ave, that looks really good.

Kaia, I love how you used the different shades of blue and purple on that one.

And so I had a sort of Epiphany (early, I know!). Sitting around the table and all doing the same thing, be it eating or coloring or playing Operation or Uno; it’s sitting around the table and all doing the same thing. So I think that qualifies as a win, even if my eye lid twitched occasionally.

I store up moments like this. I keep them in a scrapbook made of sinew and ligament, flesh and blood. It’s a scrap book in my mind, I can flip through it and see the moments where I was totally present, and these moments go back a long way. Good moments and awful ones. I store them up against the day no one wants to color with me, or talk to me, or even look at me. I know we will have days like that, as lovely as these girls are.

Avery said, when I am a mom some day, I will have probably sixteen cats (!) and I will be just like you.

It is now recorded for all time, that the aim of most daughters is to be just like their moms. We have our crazy habits and moods, I understand this now. Both of my mothers have exhibited a little bit of crazy at different times in my life. But I don’t mind being like them, I really don’t.

Ave is seized with the sudden desire to belt out seemingly random notes. She jumps into a room, spreads her arms wide, raises her tiny little fox chin and pushes out a perfect middle C, or a D, I’ve heard her go up to an E… I think. It sounded high, and when I tried to match her it felt just the same as an E feels. I asked her to sing me a song and she sang the Schubert Agnus Dei we’ve been singing as part of the liturgy at church, this lilting version of it. Jesus, Lamb of God, have mercy on us. Except she sang, Spongebob, pal of Patrick, have mercy on us.

So maybe every moment is not divine and inspiring.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again as we face the onset of a new year, a blank page and a blinking cursor (do they blink anymore? I haven’t noticed lately): We can do hard things. We can recognize deep blessing in seemingly frivolous, ordinary,  moments; this, friends, is called Grace.

Like coloring Rainbow Dash and Patrick’s pants. Like the high and clear bell of a six year old voice singing to an old, old Schubert tune. Like the cold, cold hand of my husband on my chest, resting against the bones that guard my heart, seeking warmth as a long outdoor project draws to a close.

Grace. May your New Year be full of it, received and offered.

I still love you. ❤









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