Sunday, May 30, 2010

Love Letters, Part Two

I thought it was time to write little love letters to the kids again, because everything else I have to write is a bit sad because I'm a bit sad and despite my best efforts to pull it together, I think I'm going to need a lot more sleep and a lot more chocolate, and let's be honest, a lot more time, to take the next few months step by step with grace and humor. The girls will be two in thirty-six days and I'm just worn out. I have an amazing husband, a downstairs Mary Poppins who doubles as one of my best friends, family who loves me and friends who are the same as family who loves me. I have everything a person could ever ask for and yet, I am still mired in the human condition and I have limits, unreasonable expectations, a dirty shower, a healthy dose of ingratitude...basically, a whole lot of junk to hold up in the light. And it's been getting the better of me.

It doesn't help that the days have gotten harder and longer with Elena and Glory spreading their wings and seizing their freedoms and each other's necks long after their traditional bedtime. And it doesn't help that Sam is tired too. But I think all it does is reveal the weak spots that were there anyway. The stuff that can't be ignored.

I was listening to another Tim Keller sermon podcast this week and he was quoting a C.S. Lewis passage about, amongst other things, perspective. Lewis talks about how many things that are ugly in us get worse, slowly over time, if left to grow without precise diagnosis, recognition and treatment. And how if you are only to live eighty years, maybe that's not such a big deal. How bad can those ugly things really get in such a short period of time? But if eternity is true and we go on and on and the choices we make now continue to form who we are then, then we become more and more of our grumbles until there is no more left of the true us at all. On the contrary, if we keep fighting to move toward love, then how much grander will it be when there are less grumbles and so much more love?

This week when I have had countless moments of wishing that I would get struck by lightning so I could stop wrestling with myself, I have been reminded of that talk. There is no shortcut, no easy out. This stuff in me I find so unpleasant, it requires my consent and participation to root it out so that love can fill it up. All of this from financial questions and toddler defiance! It's a good thing I am getting really good at whipping up hearty, wholesome, delicately crumbed 9-inch coffecakes so that I have something to nibble on while I wrestle. My life is so romantic, even in the struggle!

So, assuming that I am not at all alone in my human condition, I wish you luck as you move forward. Sam had me listen to an inspiring Van Jones talk about the critical importance of the energy efficiency movement, and his closing remarks were, "When it gets hard to love, love harder."

Dear Manny,

This week when I picked you up from preschool, we were driving the two minutes home and I asked you what you did at school. You replied, "I can't tell you." "Why?" I asked. "I'm too busy," you said.

I love how you find a way to talk about the giant robot Omnidroid from "The Incredibles" every day, even though you only saw it on screen once, well over a year ago. You would think the Omnidroid lived in your closet. When I asked you the other night if you like to feel scared of the Omnidroid, you said, "Yes!" Now your sisters, whenever they hear the word Omnidroid, they say, "Scared!" and they seem to mean it, at least Glory does. The Omnidroid has become the boogey man at our house and when I try to explain that the Omnidroid only lives in stories, like Curious George, this does not deter your insistence in any way.

I love how you are learning to thoroughly wash your hands, though not necessarily at the right times. I love how you can make a whooping good time of absolutely anything. You find the fun within yourself. You don't have a favorite toy. I asked you yesterday what your favorite toy is and you said your fire truck. You have had your fire truck parked inside the giant baby gate around the elliptical trainer for at least the last month. Your play comes from the inside out and I am exicted for all the ways you are learning to create and, despite myself, I love the way you beat the hell out of your drums that you are also slowly deconstructing because I believe that you are going to learn how to take stuff apart and build it back up in a way that expresses your inventiveness and creativity.

I love how when I bake something good, you stuff your mouth so full that other parents look on in horror and disgust, half worried you are going to choke and half shocked that Glory is mimicking you in every way. I take it as a high compliment, especially when there are grated carrots involved.

And I love how you still have an incredibly high need for snuggles and that I still fit the bill.

Dear Glory,

I love how you still feel so tiny when I hold you. You are the size of a a one-year old with the dexterity of a three-year old. I have never seen someone so fascinated by shoes and I love to watch you struggle to pull the back of your pants up over your pull-up diaper. How delighted will you be when you are freed from the bulk of absorbency and all that covers your bottom is a thin piece of pink, lace-trimmed cotton if they even make panties small enough for your itty-bitty cheeks.

I love how every time you see newborn Miles Love you have to get as close to his face as you are allowed, all the while pointing and shrieking in pure happiness, "Baby! Baby!" I love how every time Sam comes home, you shout "Daddy!" and run for the door. I love that as soon as I finish each line of the three verses of "Away in the Manger" you and Elena proclaim "Again!" I love that when you sit at the piano, you seem geniunely interested in the sounds you make and that what comes out is thoughtful and pretty, even in its disorganization.

Dear Elena,

The other day you hit me, which is not unusual these days. And when I picked you up and asked you to say sorry, you did, but you said it in such a flippant, unspecific way that I asked you to look me in the eye and say sorry. So you pressed your face to my face, our eyes matched and said as genuinely as I've ever heard it said, "Sorry." I will miss your literalism as you figure out the nuances of all the things I tell you.

I love how when you try, you can now eat without wearing half your meal. I love how much you love your bookies, which range from empty notebooks to C.S. Lewis' "Miracles" which you plucked off the shelf the other day and carried under your arm all the way to preschool and to the coffee shop and then to the adirondack chair outside where you proceeded to throw up because I gave you Tylenol and then bribed you with a gummy vitamin all on an empty stomach. I love how after you threw up, you insisted on finishing the squash bread we bought with Grandma Barb's muffin money, as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened. I resisted, but you insisted and I never saw it again, so you were right. I love how much you love to draw pictures and how you are so much slower to start eating the crayons than your sister.


Abigail (aka Mamatouille) said...

I love your love notes, and I know your kiddiewinks will, too. You've inspired me.

Jen said...

Wow! I love how you write the truth in a way that inspires me to be a better, more patient and loving mother. You have also inspired me to write to my children.

Marilyn Gray said...

I know you know this, Angie, but "This too shall pass" and in time, you will look back on these days and think..."maybe it wasn't as tough as I thought it was". And when your kiddos are grown adults and they say something like "Thanks for being the Mom you are" all the toil and trouble seems to melt away in an instant! You're a wonderful, laugh at them and yourself and know that calmer days will come! You are giving them something not many kids get these days. and you should be proud of that!!!!!

The Leftoverist said...

You are amazing, Angie. My friend and mentor Kathy says, "When the shit hits the fan, the fallback is always 'What am I learning?'" It sucks to be learning so much right now, but in other ways it's good. You're getting in touch with what really matters, with the things fire can't burn and money can't buy.

It was so good to be with you today. xoxo

Grandma Bette said...

Angie you are amazing! I can so identify with you (and Melisa) when you talk about needing sleep and the days getting harder and longer. I am only on grandma duty from breakfast through bedtime story hour (I take nights off) and I am just the assistant but I am overwhelmed. Not only the showers are dirty but the table legs, chairs and counters, the floors have not been really clean in a month, trash is always overflowing, and the back yard is . . . well just not the same. You have such an amazing talent at capturing the adventures of your family life. Your children are so fortunate they will be able to go back and "feel" what it was like in their first years.