Archive of ‘Sappy Schmaltz’ category

Forgive me while I catch my breath

tori graduate

Tori graduated from kindergarten yesterday.

It was a sweet ceremony. A silly ceremony. Much like the six-year-olds who posed in their tiny caps and gowns on the stage.

Their little feet bounced as the slideshow chronicling their year played. Their little bodies swayed to the music. They made goofy faces at each other, and when the time came to get their diplomas, they rushed across the stage, forgetting to stop and pose as their teachers had told them to.

In the audience there were smiles and laughter, sniffles and tears. I found myself choked up, unable to breathe.

My Tori is a first grader now. It hardly seems possible.

I know there are still twelve long years ahead of us before she graduates for real and heads out into the world.

But it’s only twelve years.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was tearfully leaving her at daycare for the first time?

I look at my garage, still full of baby things, and I think, “it’s not too late to have another. Am I really ready to leave all things little behind?”

The answer, of course, is no. And yes (I think).

Is anyone ever really ready?

At least I still have at little while longer to cherish her warm body curled tight against mine in sleep. To make doody jokes and name fart smells as she laughs those belly laughs. And to participate in impromptu ballet lessons and epic bubble blowing sessions that follow her very specific rules.

I’ll soak in those carefree giggles and soulful cuddles while I can.

In fact, I think I’ll record her telling me, “you’re the best mommy in the whole world,” now, before she forgets.

Because she will. At least for a while.

And I’m sure I’ll sniffle and the tears will fall.

But we’ll also laugh, and talk, and hopefully cuddle every once in a while.

I’ll keep doing my best to be the Best Mommy in the World, even when she just wants me to go away.

Because someday, she’ll be me, watching her little one start to grow. And I want her to know she can call her mommy when it hurts… after all, I’m about to call mine.

 

 

 

 

I Remember When She Was My Hero

I remember dancing through the warm summer grass,  my heart singing a happy tune as I listened to my grandma chatter.

“I’m here with my pride and joy,” she said to the gravestone as she pulled at the weeds obscuring its face. “She reminds me a lot of you. Oh, how you would have loved her.”

a single dandelion

Then she fell silent, and although I didn’t understand why, I knew she was sad. Quickly, I pulled a dandelion and danced over to where she was kneeling. I didn’t know what to say, so I just held it out to her.

“For me?” she said in a high falsetto. “Oh, thank you, honey.”

She hugged me tight and by the time she let go, her smile was back in place. And when I saw it, I knew all was right in the world again.

I cherished the time I spent with her. She taught me how to play war (the card game). She introduced me to the delicious concoction that is jello with a dollop of cool whip on top. She even taught me a little bit about what it meant to be a woman.

To this day, whenever I begin to dot foundation on my neck, I hear her say, “Always make sure your makeup goes all the way down to your collar. Otherwise you look unfinished.”

She wore dresses and heels, and her shoes always matched her purse. To a little girl still enamored with dress-up, her wardrobe was a dream come true.

Even then, I knew that her arrival made my mom anxious, and that she wasn’t always nice to her only daughter. But I was her Pride and Joy. The female grand baby (her only girl grandchild) that arrived a mere nine months after her husband’s death.

I could do no wrong.

But then I began to grow up. And I didn’t do so gracefully. Nope. I was chubby, had zits and braces,  and an awkward sense of style to boot. I still preferred the dresses and skirts I’d worn as a young kid, but teens didn’t dress that way, so I never felt right in my clothes. Or looked right, really.

And when that happened? I began to feel the bite of her tongue.

Eventually, the hero worship faded. I began to resent her for the pain she brought to my mother. I spent less and less time with her, until, as an adult, our only contact was quarterly phone calls and an annual Christmas visit.

But that day in the graveyard stuck in my memory. I’ll never forget the way I felt that day. The way I loved that day.

A part of me never stopped loving her that way.

And so now, knowing she lies in a hospital bed, her body seemingly giving up, I can’t help but mourn for the life that’s not yet gone.

She’ll be 92 in the morning. She’s lived a long, full life. It’s understandable if she’s ready to leave this world.

But the little girl I was is crying inconsolably inside. She doesn’t want to let her go.

She was my very first hero.

I can’t quite imagine a world without her in it.

 

Photo credit: Charles Harvey, Flickr

 

 

 

She is Five.

It seems like just yesterday that I was lying in my bed in the maternity ward, relieved that I could finally feel my legs again, exhausted beyond belief, and exhilarated beyond measure.

I had brought an actual human being into the world, and she was amazing. And tiny. And holy shit, she was mine. How on earth was I ever going to pull this being a mom thing off?

Me and Tori in the hospital

During the weeks that followed, I wasn’t sure that I could. Between feeding her with an eye dropper, pumping till I felt like mooing, and giving into sporadic fits of hysterical tears, I didn’t exactly feel like mother of the year material.

But she survived (and so did I). She thrived (and I kept on surviving). And every time I blinked, she grew and changed and became even more amazing.

Before I knew it, she was one. She was walking, then running. Soon she was mumbling, then instantly talking in run-on sentences.

We made it through the terrible twos, and then the oh-my-God-why-didn’t-anyone-ever-warn-me-about-this Terrifying Threes.

Then, suddenly, she was four.  And she had become this amazing little person who surprised me at every turn.

Her vocabulary both astounded me and sent me into fits of giggles. A tiny four-year-old voice using words like “similar” and “actually” and “discombobulated” is hysterical.

She put on entire musical shows from her treadmill stage and forced her mother (me) to get over her stupid fear of dancing and shake her groove thang (although only in the privacy of our own home).

She learned to write. Count to 100. And even began to read. She read me a whole book the other day…

She also learned to love to shop. And began to display an unhealthy love of shoes that must be genetic. She even developed one hell of a sense of humor.

But even though she was starting to become an individual, she was still mine. My preschooler, mostly safe from the horrors of the real world.

Now she’s five.

Tori on the carousel

Five.

She’s beginning a journey that will take her farther and farther away from me. It’s a long trip, I know. But then…wasn’t it just last month that I found out I was pregnant?

I’m excited to see who she’ll become next.

I hope that as she grows, every day is “the best day ever.” And I pray that when the days suck, she remembers I’m still here to wipe away the tears. No matter what happens, I feel blessed (and that’s not a word I use often) that I get to help shape this little girl into the woman she’ll become.

But you know what? I’m also a little bit sad today. I’ve had to choke back tears more than once (I may even be crying as I write this). She’ll always be my baby, but she’s not a baby anymore. Those years are behind us.

I never realized how hard it would be to let them go.

 

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