I have been spending a lot of time with my children lately, and paying close attention to the little things they do and say. There’s such growth and change from one day to the next, and I want to catch that moment of transitioning and record it down, so that I can look back and say that I remember it happening.
For the first three years of my son’s life, I made periodic journal entries about his progress, my thoughts on motherhood, and my hopes and dreams for his future, and our future as a family. Reading through the leather bound journal now, I either cringe in embarrassment at my naivety as a young mother, or am impressed at the insight I had into specific situations (mostly I cringe).
When my daughter came along, I meant to repeat the process, and bought the perfect journal for it. Needless to say, the journal gathered dust on my bedside table for a long time. Then one day I read in a magazine about how a family writes things down as they occur, on pieces of paper, which they then drop into a box to read at the end of the year. As bits of paper are always fluttering around my house, I decided that this is what we must do.
The only problem? None of the boxes I had were worthy of their soon to be contents. But I knew what just would. I had been eyeing a collection of gorgeous vintage apothecary jars at a local antique store, hoping to find a justifiable reason for making them mine. They were five in all, and, of course, could have been individually bought, but I felt they had to be displayed as a group in order to be fully appreciated. The price was a bit steep, but as a house of transitory moments in my daughter’s life, nothing else would do.
I saved the tallest for my daughter, and filled the remaining four with fleeting objects from nature. They glint and sparkle, and fill me with joy almost as much as my daughter’s being does. Occupying a prominent place in the family room, they’re a daily reminder to record what I see and hear, and enjoy my life with my children to the fullest.
A few years ago, probably before my son started school, I came across a book in the bargain aisle at Barnes and Nobles. Now, I normally don’t like bargain aisles because I’m a bit of a condescending snob towards the books that get placed there. I can’t help but believe they must be worthless compared to the ones sold at full price. I know that’s total bullshit, of course. I have learned some amazing things from books purchased from the bargain aisle.
Anyway, Because I Said So, edited by Camille Peri and Kate Moses, is a collection of essays written by various famous and not so famous mothers on - what else? - children, faith, aging, sex and the relationships we have with those around us. I have read it once or twice - okay, three times - cause it’s funny as heck, and also filled with the mommy kind of wisdom I don’t always possess.
This entry is not about the book though. Nor is it about my criteria for friendships - yup, I have a criteria for friendship and so should YOU! - the book is rather about the power struggles between mother and son and mother and daughter. Apparently these power struggles go on in every house, but the truth is, until my daughter was born, I had it easy. My son and I were so attuned to each other, that I’d mentally scorn every friend I had who complained about not understanding their kids, vowing I’d never end up like them. They yelled and yelled, whereas I just had to give my son a look. (So yeah, I have this obsession of persistently comparing myself to others, determining my place on some obscure hierarchy of motherhood. All mothers do it. Truly.) Well, then I had a daughter and it was like God said: “Time to pay up for that pompous, conceited, superior attitude, girl. And maybe a little for all the heartache you caused your own sweet mom.”
Because with my daughter every request is met with: “No! I don’t want to do it! Okay?!” followed by a wide eyed stare that could probably freeze running water. In the beginning she was really cute being sassy and all, and my husband and I would try our best to keep straight faces, happy that she was an early talker. Super proud that she was smart. But at the moment, we’re both wondering if maybe she isn’t a little too smart. Let me clarify that, we’re wondering if she isn’t too much of a smart mouth.
Because gosh! Resistance on every issue, disregard for her brother’s toys - or her mother’s shoes, - always a quick comeback. The list goes on and on. My husband likes to remind me that I wanted a girl and I got a girl, so I should quit complaining. He’s right about the girl part, but wrong about the complaining part. I am not complaining. I am trying to raise a loved, happy, brave, strong, AND considerate daughter. I’m sure the Because I Said So mommies will agree with me.