Some evenings I look back and wonder if the day mattered. Did I do anything at all that mattered? Did I give enough time and attention and love to each boy? Did I discipline or did I punish? Did I yell too much? Was I not strict enough or was I too strict? Will the boys remember today? Did they have fun? Did they learn? Did they know they were loved? It’s enough to shake my faith.
But then, without realizing, I’m in a moment, living it, breathing it, moving in it. I know it’s right.
Yesterday afternoon I watched the thunderstorm roll in, reveling in the raw power. But over the thunder and the wind, I hear “Mommy!” I turned to see Tornado A standing at the sliding glass door with his whole body pressed against it. I let him out to watch the lightning. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9- Thunder rolled through the air. I became a responsible adult and ushered Tornado A back inside the house to safety.
When the storm settled into sprinkling, I allowed Tornado A out, and he ran straight for the mud puddles. I joined him. I jumped in the puddles in the grass, and he tried to jump with me. I danced around in the rain, and he twirled with me. I remembered that being a parent means having an excuse to play like a kid.
Earlier that day, we were returning home from the bakery with goodies, and I asked Tornado E how he felt about school starting soon.
Tornado E: I’m a little nervous.
Me: About what?
Tornado E: I don’t know.
Me: About making friends?
Tornado E: Yeah.
Me: Just be yourself. You’re a pretty awesome little dude.
He beamed at me. Then I remembered his biggest social problem.
Me: And be nice. Because someone likes something that you don’t, doesn’t make the person dumb or the thing they liked. If someone likes Superman and you don’t, that’s ok. It’s ok to be different. You don’t say something mean to hurt the person’s feelings.
Tornado E: Can I say “I don’t like that?”
Me: (Weighing the pros and cons of the answer and then decided) No. Let’s keep it friendly. IF you have to say something, you have to be able to take it too. What if another boy says Skylanders is dumb?
Tornado S: NO, IT’S NOT!!!
Tornado E: I would say, “You’re dumb.”
Me: (sigh) No. You should say, “I like it.” Or “I don’t think it’s dumb.” Your mama likes a lot of movies and books that others don’t.
Tornado E: Like what?
Me: Like. . . . Like Twilight, there’s a lot of people who say it’s silly. And they’re right. But I don’t care. I still like it. It’s ok that they don’t like it. And it’s ok that I do.
Tornado E: It’s ok to be different.
Me: Yes. And you have to respect those differences.
Tornado E: Hmmmm.
I remembered being a parent is about teaching and reaching and hoping it sinks into their minds.
Yesterday evening as I wrestled with Tornado A, I noticed Tornado S lurking in the door way. We made eye-contact. He launched into a monologue about The Emperor and Star Wars. I played with Tornado A and listened. When he took a breath, I smiled.
Me: You’re my favorite Tornado S in the whole world. I’m lucky to have a boy like you. You’re smart and funny and cute. You tell great stories and know lots of things. I’m a very lucky mommy. And I love you.
He stood taller. His whole being became lit from within. He smiled. I remembered being a parent is about building things that can’t be seen but can be felt.
Yup, sometimes this parenting thing is easy.