Last year I started a tradition.
But I guess it's really not a tradition if I only did it once, is it?
My plan was to write each year around my birthday about Motherhood. The specific way that I mother. Because I wish with all my heart I had that record of my mother. I have a few pictures...just a handful. I wrap my heart around them because they help tell the story of her.
Sure, I know her story now. She is a holy woman...and one of my very best friends. But I don't know her then. I don't know if she had to be refined into what she is now or if she came that way. I don't know the little things like whether she got exasperated when we refused to go to bed at bedtime or what she cooked most often for dinner. I wish I knew what she thought about and how she interacted with us.
I see her today as a model of perfect motherhood. I wonder if she was always that way or if the title of this book had some truth in it:
(I kid...I know she was never a witch but she sure thinks she was.)
I shared some pictures of my mother mothering last year here.
Here are a few more...
I wish I could reach into her mind and find out what she thought about. What she stressed about.Was it finding balance in life surrounded in the swirl of activity nine children brought?
Was she always the "eye" of the storm I remember her being?
Did she adore nature as much as I do? Did she just long to stay in this grove of blossoms until they became part of us like I would?
What did she like to do if she could ever squeeze out any spare time?Did we ever let that funky, comfy-looking red shag carpet engulf us as we read stories together or talked about the wonders of the world?
I wish I knew. I wish I had video-footage of the whole thing.
Over the last month or so a few things have brought me to reminisce about what life was like when I had just toddlers in tow (I wrote about a couple things I pulled from the dark recesses of my mind here). I dragged out all my journals...I went back to the archives of this blog, and although there are thoughts and happenings spilling out, the amount of mothering specifics with my young kids are blurry at best.
I figured I better kick into gear on my "day-to-day mothering tradition" that I started last year (part one is back here).
So, dear children of mine, here is what I do as your mother at this stage of life, because I want us to remember it, the good and the bad:
Although I will always have a little bit of I.W.A.N. in me, I am fully embracing having older children. Max and Elle, I love the way your minds work and the challenge of figuring out how you tick (I am continually amazed that two such different children came from the same parents). I love the inside jokes we share and I even love when you'll cock your heads to the side when I say something silly and say, "Mom, you're weird" with an affectionate smile stretched across your faces.
It fills my heart right up to the brim when we're around babies and I catch that I.W.A.N. look in your eyes.
We cook together on Sundays (most of the time). I put each one of you in charge of making a dish (maybe some chicken dish for Elle, the salad for Max, or bread for Grace). We make a mess and it takes all afternoon (especially when we make home-made rolls), but I'd never give it up because we talk a lot over those dinner ingredients.
I love doing crafts with you. Not so much the ones like scrap booking or making things out of paper mache (although I do love those too...not so much the scrap booking one though). I love the crafts more like baking fancy birthday cakes or painting Easter eggs.
I'm doing better each time we make something to let you take the reigns a little more instead of being a control freak.
I love when we have Mondays off of school.
I don't often call you by your real names. They just seem much too formal for how much I love you. I call you all kinds of funny things, but most of all I call all of you "sugar." Sometimes "sug" for short.
I am not, by nature, a really organized person (luckily your dad has enough organization in him to make up for that by a long-shot). I'm not overly particular about most things but I do have a few exceptions:
1) The dishwasher. I'm totally quirky about how it is loaded...it must be organized just so. You have discovered this and because you're so smart, sometimes you'll tell me there's no way you can fit all the dishes in there. I fall for it almost every time and come do the dishes with you.
2) hmmm....maybe number one is the only one I'm particular about after all...
I try to turn off the computer and unplug when you get home from school. It is tough because life is so darn crazy, but it is so worth it because I want you to know that YOU are most important.
You are becoming my best friends (along with Dad of course).
As supervised bath time has become less and less frequent (most of you have moved on to showers or are very capable of taking your own baths), I have realized what a treasure of time it is. As I bathe you (mostly Claire as Lu stays occupied with bathing her princesses), we talk about all kinds of things. I try to spill out my love for you in every answer to your never-ending questions about the world and how things tick.
When you get out of the tub we have a tradition: I sing "at the car wash" while I dry your hair and bodies.
And always when it's Lu's turn to get dried off and I'm rubbing her wet hair the towel goes over her face and I mock worry: "oh no, OH NO! Where is Lucy?? she's GONE!" then I follow it up by popping the towel off your head and saying "Boo!" I do not know that you guys find this particularly amusing anymore, but I just do it out of habit.
I have become accustomed to your continual addiction to music, Max and Elle, and I actually like your song choices.
When I began my texting career I vowed I would always use perfect grammar instead of succumbing to using things like "u" for you and "c" for see. I gave up on that a while ago and am now a "short-hand" texting pro.
I am in over my head with my church duties helping the Young Woman at our church. Although I knew it would be a big job, it turned out to be much bigger than "big," and you have to deal with sharing me with 32 young women a lot. You do it beautifully and selflessly. I know you learn so much from these girls (right along with me...they are SO wonderful) and I am so thankful for how much you support me and love me even when my mind is shared so heavily.
You have become my secretaries in the car to text people I haven't been able to respond to. You type as I dictate. I'm so thankful for your help!
You have to make your beds and clean your rooms every morning. If you don't, you don't get to hang out with friends after school. (Even though most days our afternoons are so jam-packed that there's no time to "hang" anyway, but it's kind of become a habit.) I'm generally pretty good about being tough about this and you rarely forget, but every so often my heart aches if I see you forgot. So Lucy and I turn ourselves into "cleaning fairies" and do a little secret service for you.
I am a nagger. I really try not to be, but sometimes I get so frustrated that it takes me so many times to ask you to do things. But I realize this is my problem, not yours. I need to be more direct on my requests and I'm working on that.
Dad and I apologize to you quite often because quite frankly, we make a lot of mistakes. We remind you we're still learning this parenting thing and as much as we try to plan and be preemptive, we are still learning as we go.
I make salads as a side-dish for dinner pretty much every single night. Dad and I tell you that you must take "a lot or a little." After years of this you would think that children would start relishing the greens, but you still turn your noses up and ask for the "littlest of little."
Don't worry, I'm not giving up.
I am a sucker for a "Mommy-Date." I'll take you out of school for lunch on a whim and we both relish that. Max and Elle, I have to get more creative with you since your schools are trickier to steal you from. Mostly we have our "dates" to the orthodontist or to try to round up some clothes that will fit your ever-growing bodies.
How I hope with all my heart that you will grow to love the Savior and follow Him throughout your life. I try to bring Him into our conversations as much as I can. I love to discuss religion with you and see how your minds make sense of it all.
I have SO much to learn as your mother. I'm so grateful for how forgiving and kind you are to me as I muddle my way through how to be my own best kind of mom.
I adore you more than you will ever be able to understand until you have children of your own some day, and they are as perfect in your eyes as you are in mine.