This morning, after Sunday School and while she was drying off from an hour in the pool, I asked all nine years and 10 months of M’Dear to grade my first week of mothering. I’ve prayed all week to be for and to her what God would have me be. Have I hugged her enough, given her too many things, left her too often to her own devices, allowed her to eat too much? I asked if there were anything in the week, coming from me that she would want more of or differently. She said she could think of nothing and agreed to write it down if I weren’t around if and when it came to her. She gave me an A+, plus, plus and still, I feel as if I continually fall short.
This afternoon, my back to her as she played alternately with the pups and her DS and as I continued with more unnecessary and time-consuming research for the course that becomes available to students in a few short hours, I gave thanks for her allowing me to nap an hour longer than agreed. As the action moved closer and closer until it located itself under my chair at the head of the dining table, I continued listening to a friend who’d been on my heart several times this week and listing chapter headings for the second book we’d be reading for the new course, Staceyann Chin’s memoir, The Other Side of Paradise. This form of virtual nesting netted a leap-frog in planning. It is only because I went through the volume page by page listing the beginning and ending of each short chapter that I discovered the Reading Group questions at the back. This discovery saves my having to reinvent the wheel for treatment of the text and will therefore allow me to complete the first week’s folder by the opening bell at midnight.
The rub arises where, looking down mid-discovery, I say, don’t use your shoe like that, to the precious creature gently taunting the pup playing with her. I don’t like to play with gestures others use as threats. One evening when we were both particularly tired, my husband suggested showing my shoe to the barking dogs and I did so without thinking, grateful only that it worked. It wasn’t until long afterward when I was substantially more rested that I imagined why. But how do I communicate that to someone 9 and 10/12ths old? I wish I would have practiced the redirection that preferred parenting models recommend. I wish too that the other night when, awakened by harsh voices outside from another much needed nap, I called her in to the back room to sit with me because her uncle was on the phone and oblivious to the chaos spiraling outside, that she hadn’t taken my explanation of what was going on outside so casually after I’d prayed aloud to have peace rule and reign between the husband and wife upstairs.