"The mother-women seemed to prevail that summer at Grand Isle. It was easy to know them, fluttering about with extended, protecting wings when any harm, real or imaginary, threatened their precious brood. They were women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels."
- Kate Chopin, The Awakening
Phone; bane of my existence did not ring this morning. I have not worked since last Monday, which sounds worse than it is (Sort of). On Tuesday, they didn’t call, which was good since I would’ve had to cram packing in after school, before we left for New York. On Wednesday, I took the day off because we were in New York. Thursday and Friday there was no school for the Thanksgiving holiday. This week, back to Monday with no call, and now today, the phone is silent. I fear to see my next paycheck, which will be paltry in the midst of the holiday $pending season. One main downside to subbing (besides: erratic schedule, no class of my own, low earnings) is no work equals no pay.
The upside to being off today is that I can work on my manuscript, Indigo in the Know. My father-in-law edited about one-third of it, and I’ve had some ideas to make it avoid the trap of telling, instead of showing. I’m slow, but I think I finally understand that my character needs to reveal more in action than thought. (Duh!) I wanted to tinker with it yesterday, but there were all of the chores to be done after our road trip: unpacking, food shopping, cooking, laundry, and ironing (Oh, and the blog). A day of breathing room from chores is a rare and precious treasure. If I have to feel guilt-ridden that I’m not getting paid today, at least I don’t have to feel guilty about household tasks.
My feminist rant yesterday was cathartic, but I thought perhaps one-sided. I’m not speaking of the man’s point of view, but rather, the positive impact that my children have had on me. I don’t want my blog to become “Kids Say the Darndest Things”. As a rule, I try not to shove my children down people’s throats (Unless they ask). Besides, I pride myself on being woman-mother, instead of a mother-woman. But my children are still a large part of my identity, and there are moments when something they say or do stops me in my tracks. I've compliled a few highlights:
- My daughter periodically and sincerely tells me that I’m beautiful.
- My son is a gourmet, so if I make an effort with plating, it never goes unappreciated.
- When my daughter was a baby, if she was hysterical, my humming would be enough to soothe her.
- When my son was just out of babyhood, he was struggling to attach two Little People farm fence pieces. Determined, he kept at it, until he exclaimed, “I did it,” which demonstrated his perseverity, dexterity, and first three-word sentence.
- When my daughter was two, she idolized and tried to keep up with her big brother. He was a in big Star Wars phase at the time, so she’d circle the house with him, toting a play gun and squeaking, “Byoom, byoom, Storm Troopers.”
- My son is a voracious reader, which makes it hard to believe that he ever went through a long and painful period of insecurity about learning to read. When he’s excited about something he's learned, he has to tell everyone about it in vivid detail. I'm not the only one to call him a walking encyclopedia.
- Until my daughter turned five, any time I checked on her while she was sleeping, she would instinctively turn towards me, and try to burrow into me without waking up.
- My son has a strong sense of fairness, is kind to his friends, and avoids troublemakers. Because of his “calming influence”, he won Class Peacemaker at the end of fourth-grade.
- My daughter dives into everything with enthusiasm. She has passion for anything that she does. An aura seems to radiate from her, and her eyes sparkle when she's excited.
- One evening, my son to watched my daughter for a couple of hours. When I returned, he had cleaned the dinner table (okay, coffee table, where they ate dinner and watched television - I'm a bad mother), washed the dishes, and was in the midst of microwaving apples that he and his sister had cored and spiced. Even though they sometimes fight, she adores him, and anytime he’s in charge of her, he takes the responsibility very seriously.
There are many reasons to treasure the time I spend with my children. When I pick them up after school, I get to hear about their day before they forget the details. In order to give them fresh air, I bring them to parks, where I also get fresh air. Although I have to cart the kids around to their activities, it also means I get to relax while they engage in them. They constantly amaze me with their sophistication of language and thought.
As little ones, they went through some of the same phases, like babies giggling at silly things and toddlers lining the same type of toys in a long row. My son is stubborn and bossy (like me), but can be so thoughtful that my heart swells. My daughter is easy-going (except when she’s not), and possesses an intuition to gauge people’s moods, and responds accordingly. My son screams like a banshee when he’s angry, and my daughter has a gift of throwing herself on the ground when she’s furious. Sometimes I’m enraged when they behave this way, and work on teaching them self-control, but other times, I have to smother a smile.
Before I had children, I was sure that differences in gender were nurture, rather than nature. Then my son turned one, and everything that had wheels and could move, became sources of fascination. Each interest after that was testosterone-based: police, fire trucks, construction vehicles, guns, Star Wars, army, and World War II. When he turned two, I bought him a doll and carriage, which he had zero interest in. When my baby daughter had only begun sitting, she’d gravitate towards baby dolls and pretend to be their mother. As soon as she turned two, her favorite color became pink, which lasted five years. Although she’d play war with her brother, she used her pastel dolls and animals alongside his army guys. In other words, they've learned to compromise in unique ways.
Just like when I teach, I learn something from my own children every day. Raising them is a privilege. And having the luxury of time to do so is an honor.