When your dad knocked on the door of the brown brick house on Karen Street nineteen years ago to ask your papa for my hand in marriage, your papa wisely told him, “Terry, she’ll need a strong leader.” He said this because he knew my stubborn, determined will better than anyone. One thing he forgot to tell him is that I also needed someone who could tell me to take a deep breath and calm down. Your dad learned the hard way that I get stressed-out easily.
Today, we completed our first day of the homeschooling co-op. It took me three years to build up the courage to commit to this. You have joked with me about how I have counted the number of water bottles too many times and agonized over the lunches you would take. You may not know that I printed out roughly seventeen pages of emails related to co-op. I filled out forms, wrote checks, planned our schedule, and asked more than a few questions of the co-op leaders. (Bless their hearts!)
Today, I worked in the class with the 3-5 year olds. One little girl became a fast friend. We talked about her doll and I encouraged her to keep her backpack unzipped because her doll needed some air. I was just trying to make conversation with her, but she took me quite literally. When her mom came in later, her daughter informed her that the her doll “needed air” so the backpack had to stay unzipped. Her mom smiled and said how cute her daughter was. I was worried, of course, that I might have caused trouble. But this little girl’s mom was relaxed…not like your mom. I went on to help the little girl glue beads onto a sick that had a number on it. I helped her count out the exact number and we got glue all over our hands. I, of course, brought out my hand wipes to clean both of us up and anyone else, too. One little girl had four items glued to a stick that had a “2” on it. I came very close to pulling off the superfluous items and helping her attach some of them to the “5” stick. Luckily, I realized it wasn’t that important. I actually let it go. It was such a paramount moment that I decided to write it down in this blog post. (I know you’re proud of me.)
Being in that class reminded me of when you all were that little. I wasn’t the relaxed mom at all. I helped you re-arrange objects to get them on right; I encouraged you to keep things in order, to stay in the lines when coloring. I had you erase whole rows of handwriting to put in that word you left out. I tried to be cheerful about it, but did my smile make the work any easier? No, it didn’t. I am afraid that sometimes I was more like a dictator than a loving mother and teacher.
I feel terrible about those days because I do love you, and I want my actions to say as much. As a young girl, when I sat in my room, reading and daydreaming, I dreamed about you. Well, I didn’t know what you would look like, but I hoped that the Lord would let me have children. As I grew, I realized that not everyone is able to see this dream fulfilled. I was prepared for the worst. To my delight, the Lord gave me not one, but five of you! From the moment I held each one of you, I was filled with joy and a tinge of concern. I considered this a very special job, and I wanted to do it right. I wanted to teach you to take care of yourself, and others. I wanted you to learn to dream big, and work hard; to be kind, and to be tough. Most of all, I wanted to point you to the Lord. I now see that my actions probably did the opposite many times.
I’m sorry that I’m a stressed-out mom. I’m sorry I fret over silly things like if you’ll have enough water bottles to see you through the hot day, or that you have insect repellent and sunscreen on at soccer practice. I’m sorry I make you sit up straight at church and wear a jacket in 60 degree weather. I’m sorry I complain about how dirty you got your pants, or how much milk you drink – all the while making sure you wear clean pants and drink plenty of milk. I wish I could be the mom that I dreamed I would be, because you certainly have fulfilled all of my dreams about you.
It’s okay if one day you tell your children (or your friends) that your mom was kind of crazy – you can even make the “loco” sign by your head. You can tell them all about my OCD tendencies and about all of my worrying and have a good laugh. I know it’s funny, and I hope you will always smile about it. I hope you’ll smile because you know that you had a stressed-out mom who loved you with every ounce of her being.