My Shadow

on 15 November 2013

I like that my children like me.

Seems strange, I know, most mothers seem really excited when their kids go their own way and do their own thing.  And I think it's fine when my kids do that.  I remind myself that I gave them life because I want them to live it, but I still miss them when they're off doing their own thing.

I worked really hard when they were babies to get them to like me.  I nursed them and carried them all the time.  I don't play toys with my kids, but if they bring me a book (and I can), I stop whatever I'm doing and read to them.  I never refuse to cuddle them or hug them or kiss them.  I sing to them whatever they ask for, whenever they ask for it.  I periodically sit and eat cookies with them at 10 o'clock in the morning, just for fun and because I can.  We go out behind our apartment and run and chase and play every afternoon, just for fun and because we can.  I pull the futon mattress down onto the living room floor and we have pillow fights and wrestle and play.

So I like that they like me.

To say nothing of the fact, that sights like these crack me up:


on 13 November 2013

I was doing my normal weekly clean-laundry-put-crap-away routine, when I noticed that the kids were both in their room. 

So I stood outside the shut door and listened.

I could hear them both playing (together!) and laughing (at the same time!) and having a great time in general.

I wanted so badly to go in and watch them, or even better, to be part of it.  But then I had this realization.

Inside that room is their own world.  It belongs to them.  And as the Mom, I don't have any part of it.  Outside of that room there are rules and routine and discipline and order and structure, and that's the world that I am a part of.  I knew that if I were to go in there, even just to watch them play, that the dynamic would change. 

I can't tell you how sad it made me.  I cried telling Chris about it later on.  I just wanted to see them having fun together.  But I made myself go back to work, back to making lunches and putting the apartment in order.  Because even though it made me sad, it's exactly what I wanted.  I wanted to be able to give my Boy a sibling to grow up with, to play with and love and be friends with.  And I can't help but feel that in order for that to really happen, I just have to get out of the way.

At least some of the time...


on 11 November 2013

Saturday I made cookies.  We had spent the week in Savannah because Chris' great-grandmother passed away, so we had gone down for the funeral.  It was a quick trip and we were all happy to be home.  So when the Boy requested "chocolate chip cookies, Mama?  Please?  PLAIN?"  I said, "SURE!"  And started mixing them up.

As I was whipping that butter into submission, I started to think about the best compliments I've ever received.  My Mom said a couple of weeks ago, that she thinks I've turned out to be a better cookie baker than she is.  And given that my Mom is the Queen of All Baking, I was really touched by that.  It started me thinking about the best compliments I've ever received.

I'm not comfortable with compliments in general.  I'm not sure why.  They make me feel self-conscious and awkward.  I never really know what to say.  I know that I should just say Thank You (like a grown-up) and move on.  But I find myself feeling embarrassed and shy about everything I do.  I think much of the discomfort comes from comparison.  After all, I poke around on Ravelry and see what REAL Knitting Genius looks like (there are techniques that I am still too intimidated to even TRY).  So my simple efforts are in no way brilliant, but they make me happy.  I have studied works of literary genius for half of my life, so I know that the things that I write are in no way, shape, or form, profound or brilliant.  And it's ok.  I've written about genius before and I'm perfectly content being ordinary.  Consequently, my favorite compliments have stemmed, not from something that I've done, but from how I live my life.

The chair of my department in grad school looked me square in the face and said I was the most sensible person he'd ever met.  This, after I had made a suggestion about how to correct the course offerings to cover student interest and graduate student availability to teach.  I came home and told Christopher that it might have been the best compliment I've ever received.  (Of course, looking back on it, I realize that he probably just hasn't met many people who have common sense.  After all, he works in a Liberal Arts department.)

And then my Mom--Queen Baker herself--declared that I might be a better cookie baker than her.  HER.  I was floored, and touched and it just makes me so happy.  I know, it's a small thing, Mom taught me to make cookies.  It was one of those intrinsic parts of my childhood, and still, a really good cookie tastes like a happy childhood to me.

I've been thinking about the compliments that I pay to others.  And I'm sure that other people are, perhaps, more comfortable with general compliments than I am.  But I think I should do better about paying compliments that are unique to the person for whom they are intended.

Which leads me to wonder, what are the best compliments YOU'VE ever received?