This week elementary children all over the country celebrated 100 days of school. Teachers asked students to show them what 100 looks like by bringing in 100 of something. 100 is a big number and it’s a big task for a 5, 6 or 7-year old. They spend a lot of time preparing; thinking, plotting and reminding their parents to help them find, make or buy 100 of something to show off to their teachers and classmates. In some cases like the school I work at (and the one my kids went to up until the 5th grade) exhibits are set up showcasing the creative way students bring 100 to the classroom. Always excited to see what they come up with, this year’s exhibit met the bar with such items as 100 colorful ribbons hanging from a branch, 100 Cheerios strung together on a necklace string, 100 pieces of macaroni spelling out a child’s name, 100 different Hot Wheels cars, beautiful buttons and gorgeous gems to name a few. It brought back memories for me from when my kids were at this school. That evening when I was telling my now 6th grader about the exhibits, it brought back memories for her too.
Do you remember what you gave me to bring in for my 100th day in Kindergarten? She asked.
Um, y-e-a-h. I said, like a peacock fanning it’s plume. “In fact”, I went on, “I think I still have that Tupperware lid that says 100 Kisses on it. I couldn’t help by pause to give myself a little mental pat on the mother-of-the-year-award back for the clever pun of sending 100 Kisses into her class. Hershey Kisses of course!
Those were the days when all I ever thought about was how to be the best-est mother ev-ah! Lost in my moment of motherhood glory I almost missed the scowl on her face.
What? Was that not the best 100 Days ever? Come on, I said. 100 Hershey Kisses! How clever?
Um, Mom, I don’t mean to ruffle your (peacock pluming) feathers but that was not my 100 days. That was Noah’s.
Don’t you remember what you did for mine?
I thought I had. Confusion set in. She was right though, that was for Noah and I was drawing a blank. I’m lucky if I can remember where I set my car keys down when I come home from work these days. Surely it must’ve been great, if not greater than the Hershey Kisses I quickly convinced myself and then a vague, blurred memory began to clear in my head.
Yes, I remember. “Cupcakes! I made 100 cupcakes for the whole school!” I said, beaming.
Mom! I was 5, so excited and that morning you must have forgotten. When I asked you about it, you went to the cupboard and took out cupcake holders. You gave me cupcake holders! You told me ‘No other kid will have these.’
Now it was all coming back to me — like a bad dream.
“That wasn’t even the worst part”, she went on. “I brought them into class and when Susan (the teacher) saw them, she told me to count them.”
There was only 54!
Okay, cupcake holders for the 100th day of school are lame and math was never my forte. I guess I wasn’t the super-clever-mom my mind’s eye seemed to remember me to be either — that time.
What can I say? Parents try their best – always. Sometimes, we come up short.
Like, 46 cupcake holders short.
Do you have a coming-up-short parenting moment you can share?
Take your sword and your shield
There’s a battle on the field
You’re a knight and you’re right
So with dragons now you’ll fight…
Fairytales live in me
Fables coming from my memory
Fantasy is not a crime
Find your castle in the sky
~ Dj Satomi
Nothing contents a mother’s heart like the distant sound of chatter or laughter coming from the place where her children are playing. And nothing jump-starts a mother’s heart like the sudden shriek of discord coming from the place where her children are playing.
Sibling relationships are complicated. Mysterious. Maybe that’s because most siblings are polar opposites.
So, while it’s true that the work of children is play, it may also be said that the work of siblings is rivalry.
In a loving way of course.
Because aside from our parents, they are our first introduction to love.
They’re also our first introduction to conflict.
They are our first playmates.
And our first best friend.
Yep. Since the age of dawn or shortly there-after, let’s say since the days of Cain and Abel anyway, sibling rivalry has been a mainstay in family dynamics. It certainly was in mine and it is for my kids. I’m always suspect when people tell me they never rivaled in some way with their siblings growing up. Really? I can’t imagine what that’s like.
It’s not a bad thing; sibling rivalry. It’s a natural thing. Siblings are practice people. They help us understand who we are and let us know how we’re perceived by others. They help us find our limits and our boundaries. And when they’re not rivaling with us, they teach us about friendship.
Siblings get the first glimpse of our future through the dreams we share with them. They are lifetime confidants, the only ones who really understand the inner workings of their unique family dynamic. It’s the bond that keeps them together and tears them apart. The relationship between siblings is fickle. It can be fractured by the slightest of provocations just as easily as it can be mended by a few soft-spoken, intentional words.
If you let them, they will build it.
They might even build it together. ~ Kavst
Little do they know, while it definitely gets easier as they grow up, it also gets harder.
Siblings. They are the keeper of each others’ secrets. The holder of one another’s dreams and may they always, always help each other build their castles in the sky.
Photo Credits #1-8: ©2013 KarenSzczukaTeich & Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com
Once you’ve brought your bundle-of-joy home and realized that the temporary sleep adjustment period is really sleep deprivation with staying power– like, a few years staying power — you barely catch a few much needed ‘ZZZs before you find yourself entering the realm of unnatural attachments; your child’s affinity for a favorite toy, binky or blanket perhaps, turns well, ugly. Your little tike’s obsession usually rears it’s head for the first time, when you forget, it, which is usually on a very long car ride and it’s usually, way too late to turn around and go back for it after you finally realize what it is, that your child is convulsing over in their car seat. It, you quickly learn, is the one and only thing that can make long car rides enjoyable or absolute hell, lest you forget it. Shortly after this stage comes the era of repetition which could last for several years. Be it a word, a song, a story, a movie or all of the above, moms have heard it, sang it, told it, re-told it and watched it, over and over and over again, a zillion times, all before their little one has reached the ripe old age of five.
Another truth: the myth that moms have super-powers, is not a myth.
There is a certain inexplicable, ESP-like knowing that comes with the insanity of motherhood that all moms possess in varying degrees.
My mother could see it in our eyes.
L – I – E, she would say, I see it right there in your eyes. Now, tell me the truth.
How could a kid argue with that? The jig was up and the truth was told. It’s all in the eyes and she also had eyes in the back of her head.
When my kids are in awe of, or aghast by, something I know that they thought was in their own little vault, I merely look at them and say,
Who am I?
Over the years, they’ve learned there is only one correct response to that question when I ask it.
That’s right. I am, The Mama. They know it and The Mama, knows.
It’s true, mom’s just know things, especially when their kids need them. There’s an instinctive inner nagging that just doesn’t quit when one of my kids is in need.
It’s a super-power that comes with giving birth; a natural brain-radar for knowing or being in the right place at the right time with the right people for finding out. It never fades either. To this day, when I‘m upset or in need or retreating and trying to hide from the world for whatever reason, I can be certain of one thing: my mom will call or show up or find me in my darkest hour. And no matter how much grief I give her or how much I lean or unload on her, she is ALWAYS there for me — still.
At 74, she continues to be an amazing power of example.
When I count my blessings and I often do, the fact that she is still with me and such an integral part of my and my children’s lives is right up there with my children’s health. Being a mom is not only a blessing in my life, it is the biggest privilege of my life, an honor that I don’t take for granted and am constantly working to improve upon. Motherhood requires insane amounts of patience, understanding and perseverance and all too often, I find myself falling short or being short when what was really needed was a little more time or just an ear and not an opinion. The beauty of being a mom thankfully, is that it is a lifetime gig with a chance to do better tomorrow.
Children are adaptable, forgiving and full of surprising, heartwarming rewards.
Recently, it occurred to me, that every time I make dinner for my 13-year old son, he “thanks” me before leaving the table.
Thanks for dinner, mom.
And the other evening, my 11-year old daughter didn’t want me to spend too much money on knitting needles for her. Knitting needles! I know NOTHING about knitting. I bought them anyway.
“Oh mom, these needles are so beautiful – thank you!”
Making dinner for my son is a pleasure and I was spending money on my daughter’s new hobby and passion for knitting, not playing video games, KNITTING!
It can’t possibly get any better than that.
Here’s to moms EVERYWHERE, their insanity, their super-powers and their blessings!