Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Land of Elementary School Tears

I can’t remember a time that both kids were happy at school drop off and not crying. I’m emotionally tapped. This has to end.
I posted that on Facebook the other night with the caveat: Please no comments about how I will miss this time. Maybe one day, but for now I reside full time in the land of elementary school tears and it sucks.
The comments I received were so caring and understanding. Sometimes Facebook is really fantastic. I put something desperately into the void and wonderful community came out of it.
Everyday I drop off, I have to walk away from arms outstretched and the saddest little voices crying my name: Mama! “Powerlessness. I remember,” someone commented on my Facebook post. That’s it exactly.
I get inside my Mom Blogger skin and think about what I should wisely say in a post about this: Let them miss me. Let them cry. It will be okay. And so will I.
But that Zen-like rational is not helping.  All I can think is: I hope this is not doing permanent damage when I walk away. Does it seem uncaring to them? Because their screams are layered with feelings of abandonment. I also realize that this is not as dyer as my imagination makes it out to be. Of course they will be okay! It’s school drop off. This is not Sophie’s Choice.
They don’t do this when anyone else drops them off either. So of course I’m like, “Ah ha! It’s because I’m the sucker and this is a manipulation.” But it’s not. Because they get nothing out of it that they want and still do it. I don’t give in to their crazy demands of staying home from school (Smirker screamed for an hour one evening “I wanna be sick!” over and over again to get out of going to school in the morning and continued when she woke up) or sitting with them on the carpet with the rest of the Kindergarteners for the morning lessons like she wanted (Just sit with me mom!). I walk away without looking back feeling like a cold calculated criminal. I get sad looks from the other parents (whose kids are NOT crying by the way).
So the only real conclusion to draw is this is happening because I’m the best mom ever. Sigh. It really is a burden sometimes. I know I’m so amazing, girls, and so much fun to hang out with, but come on! I kid, but…. Moms really do rule the day. Moms rule. Dads are cool.
So I came up with a plan, a ritual if you will.
“Okay guys, I have an idea,” I said to the girls one night at bedtime. “School drop off have been hard….”
They both looked a little guilty and ready to turn on the tears.
“It’s because we miss you sooooooooo much,” Smirker said.
“We LOVE you mom,” Love Monster said.
“What will make you feel a little better when I have to leave you at school?” I said.
I was sitting on Smirker’s bed and she was playing with my hair. I looked to Love Monster first.
“I will bring my Tiana from Princess and the Frog! I’ll hug her because she reminds me of you,” LM said.
“Great!” I said.
“And I’ll bring the Sidekicks book because if I get sad that makes me smile.” LM finished.
She is obsessed with Dan Santat’s book Sidekicks.
“Smirker?” I said
Smirker was still stroking the front section of my hair. “I would like this chunk of hair. It’s so smooth and soft.”
Okay, pyscho. Yep she really is my daughter. Is this so bad that we are resorting to chopping off a chunk of my hair so my daughter won’t miss me at school?? My witchy baby.
“I like where you head is at Smirker, but NO.”
She opted for a picture of LM, her and I.
The next morning we were ready.
I took LM to her line outside and she immediately clutched Tiana to her chest and and sat down to read Sidekicks. “Bye mom!”
Smirker looked a little more shaky. She clutched the picture, staring at it while sitting on the carpet when her teachers started class and I slipped away relieved.
No tears. That day. It’s still a little shaky. But at least we have some tools now.

Both girls especially Smirker are in the stage that if I’m near them in any way, they are glued to me. They have to have some kind of contact. On my lap, holding my handing, laying on top of me, sitting on my shoulders. Anything. They want that physical contact all the time. I am totally in that time, that sweet spot, where Love Monster and Smirker aren’t afraid to show me how much they need me, want me. Need to have me near.

Will I miss the Land of Elementary School Tears? NO. NOT EVER. But will I miss the no holds barred outpouring of love and emotion for me, their mom? Yes. I know as they grow up they will need to separate. They will un-cling and yearn for independence. I’m prepared (as best I can be) for the opposite of what is happening now. When they will push me away. And I know that will not mean they don’t love me any more. But I will miss those times of unabashed need of me. But for now, they cling. I will hold on tight (except at school drop off when I have to be the “worst” and leave them in the best school in the world).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015



“Smirker never wants to hug me,” Love Monster said.
I was playing catch with Love Monster and Smirker in front of our home.
Love Monster is very huggy. She is so super cuddly and I love it. And what she said reminded me of something.
“You know what’s funny? It was opposite when you were babies. When Smirker was a baby, all she wanted was to be held. And you, you were moving so much, so busy, you didn’t want to be held at all.”
Love Monster dropped the ball she was holding. She looked at me. Her face was stricken. She ran inside crying. I triggered something.
And I knew what this moment was. I’d been dreading it.
I found her inside. We sat on her bed and I let her cry into my chest for a while.

“I don’t want to be different, mama,” she said.

“Oh babe,” I said.
She cried a little longer before saying, “You know my friend at school? Her friend tells her not to play with me, because I make her do stuff.”
LM does get bossy. She has about 5 million ideas for things to do and gets excited about sharing them. And the way she expresses it can be overwhelming and in your face, all part of the ADHD. Not that that’s an excuse. It’s something we work on a lot. Be open to other people’s ideas. It’s okay if things don’t go according to plan.
For example, days like mother’s day are her favorite kind of days. These days are also worrisome, because if things do not go according to her plan she falls apart. She stayed up late the night before writing out a schedule of things we would do, coming out from her room periodically asking what my favorite things I liked to do were. In the morning we went down the list. In the living room she had stations set up around the room labeled with sticky notes: The art station where I was told to pursue her art binder for a few minutes. The card station where we played a skylanders game. The lego show where she had the lego elves do a little play for me. A writing station where she had me fill out a Venn diagram, Love Monster on one side, Mama on the other, and Us in the middle. We each wrote two words describing what we love about each other and wrote a poem using those words. There was a reading station, a coloring station (coloring page made by LM). What a day. Don’t you love how that brain works? I love how that brain works. And sometimes she is proud, but then there are other times where she feels different.

And I know this is very normal. For most kids. There is a desperation to be like everyone else. Accepted. The same is safe. The same feels right. I think it’s a human thing. We all feel different at some point and want to feel the same, when in the end, the differences are what’s amazing right?

“I don’t want to be different, Mama.”

Children don’t reward being different. I remember that. Boy do I remember that. And I want to take that pain away from her. After she had gone to bed, I cried on the couch. How do I explain to her that being different is good? It doesn’t matter what other kids say. Love what you love. Do what you do. Is this one of those things she has to learn by herself? Would I have believed my mom if she told me? No I would have thought she didn’t understand.
 Love Monster is so great. So great. The differences are wonderful. They are. Please believe me, Love Monster. We all want to be accepted for who we are, but that doesn’t mean we need to be the same.
That night I whispered in her ears as she slept, “You are perfect. Different is good. Different is amazing.”

I let that seep into her ears, hoping my words turned into beliefs. Kids might, for the most part, not love "different." But I can encourage her. Talk to her. Reward the different. By being myself too. And maybe one day I will hear, “I’m proud I’m different Mama.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Donna Day

Bones don't walk. Bones don't talk.

Those words (paraphrased a bit here) stuck me after reading Mary Tyler Mom's Donna's Cancer Story.
The words break into my thoughts and I'm grateful. It's one of the first things I think of when I think of Donna. Donna was a smart little girl. If you have read Donna's Cancer Story you probably remember those words also. Some of four year old Donna's final revelations.

Bones don't walk. Bones don't talk.

There is so much wisdom, comfort, sadness all wrapped up in those words. For me they are a reminder of this:

Don't look away. Please. Donna's Cancer Story changed me. I will forever champion for these kids. I hope you will too.

So today on Donna Day, I ask that you open your heart and consider how you can help. Read her story. Check out St. Baldrick's. Pediatric cancer research needs funding. If you live in Illinois I believe you can donate when you do your taxes.

Mary Tyler Mom and dad also started Donna's Good Things to honor Donna and help kids with cancer find some good things.

Donna died on October 19, 2009. This beautiful, vibrant spirt left this world. But her spirit lives on through her mother, father and brothers. Through their dedication to cancer research. Through her story. I am in awe of all them.

If you are in the Chicago area, go to this St. Baldrick's event!