Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Words Can Help

Mommy is better. No more screaming. Somewhere between the Mommy Mantra book (that reminds me just getting by is incredible) and a therapy appointment, somehow between the lengthening days and upcoming plans for a birthday dinner out, I’ve gotten bigger. I feel bigger when I am with the girls, more capable of calm and foresight. The grown-up.

My mantras this week: Balance, patience, creativity and compassion.

Balance the big bad moments with lots of enthusiastic love and big family fun. Hold the faith that they will remember the good ninety-five percent.

Patience is needed for not just the interminable games (Four rounds of “Candyland?” Piece of cake) but the long afternoons and the long months where I fear some window of opportunity is being overlooked as it slowly closes. This is guilt from looking at the Montessori catalog of child-sized mops and brooms, buckets and baskets. From remembering the quiet and busy Chiaravalle Montessori classroom.

When I was teaching high school kids it was a comfort on a bad day to think, “at least we read a few pages together.” We were making slow progress, even if I had to skip Act Four of Romeo and Juliet (Yes! I’ll admit it! Go read it yourself - Not a lot happens!) It’s more difficult to see progress with the girls who are both leaping ahead (Look at the pencil lines on the inside of the closet door that mark their heights! Nora said “costume” yesterday!) and yet thrive on mind-numbing repetition – the same simple books, the same simple games, the same circle of pre-school, library, Starbucks, home. The coming home rituals (take off your boots, put away your coat, wash your hands) are what they expect and need, even as they protest. I know this, but oh how I’d love to talk to someone about re-reading Katherine Graham’s Personal History, about Schubert Lieder.

Creativity give me hope. When both the girls are flopping down on the lobby floor after a noon production of “Cinderella,” both crying and both wanting to be carried, I try, “I can’t do this, you’re going to have to help me.” No go. That means nothing to them. I sit down with them, hold up a cracker and say, “this is a magic cracker. It will give you the energy you need to walk to the car.” And somehow it worked.

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