What I hope you remember…
Please remember how you nestled into my arms, and we read Llama, Llama Red Pajama over and over again…..
Remember how I made sure to let you know we were skipping the scary picture where baby llama was alone in bed, eyes wide, terrified of a noise.
Remember how your freshly conditioned curls left spots on my t-shirts, and how I didn’t care at all. I breathed you in, held one of you under each arm while you took turns turning the pages for me. My arms were always full with both of you.
Please forget the strain in my voice when I told you to stop squirming because I couldn’t read the wobbly words. Please forget my tired sigh when you turned three pages instead of one, and we went back and forth looking for the right page.
Please remember how I encouraged you to play. I let you climb tall trees, play on the roof, use tools, and get dirty. I let you build ziplines, launch businesses, and always jump in creeks. Remember how I packed extra clothes in the car, just in case you got wet, even though we weren’t planning on getting wet. Remember how I didn’t care about the “stay on the trail” signs or the “no outside food sign”. Remember what a rule-breaker I was. We only followed the ten percent of the rules that kept us alive; the other ninety were up for grabs. Not drinking bleach is a good rule. Staying on the trail is a dumb rule unless you are on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and then it falls in the 10% of rules we follow.
Please forget how tired I was at the end of our adventures. How my laughter would turn to agitation as I was trying to get everyone back in the car. Please forget when I didn’t have the energy to read a story at night, and I told you to “get back in bed” even though you were just coming for a quick hug. Night-time was so hard for me. I was always so tired, and you never stopped wanting me. Please forget me pleading for you to get in bed and stay there. Please forget the words I should have swallowed but instead spit out at you… unkind words that I immediately regretted.
Please remember how I fought for you whenever things got rough. Remember how when that big boy hit you on the playground, I was possessed with an unnatural anger that even frightened me. Remember how I always defended you, even when you were in trouble and it was your fault, especially when it was your fault. Remember how I defended who you are and not what you did. I spoke of the character I saw in you. I spoke the truth about you. Remember how I cried for sadness when you told me you had to miss yet another party at school. Please remember how my heart always broke with yours.
Please forget my tears when the school phone calls came. Please forget my impatience with you when I know you were doing the best you could. Please, please for the love of everything holy forget any words that added to the discouragement you were already feeling, any actions of mine that confirmed what others believed about you. Forgive me for sometimes letting fear get the best of me, for letting fear take control.
Please remember how we woke up hours before the sun broke across the horizon to do physical therapy. Remember how I gave you an M&M after every lap you crawled. Remember how we laughed until we cried when we had to do that horrible exercise where I had to crawl behind you and pull on your legs. We would end up in a heap on the floor, never able to complete the activity, laughing so hard. Remember how we pretended we were ninjas or soldiers in training.
Please forget my impatience when your body resisted the pattern. Please forget how I rushed you out of bed in the morning, when your little arms were still wrapped around my neck, heavy with sleep. Please forget how many mornings you and I would both end in tears of frustration and exhaustion, lying on the mats on the floor. And to my little one that didn’t need it – please forgive the hours and years of attention that you missed out on. I wish I had more to give, needed less sleep, had more energy, and could juggle everyone’s needs without dropping the balls. I wish I hadn’t dropped so many balls.
Parenting is the hardest job. It is a job that requires a paradox of abilities. You must stay very strong and very tender at the same time. You have to both care a whole lot and not care at all. You have to learn to pay careful attention and learn to actively ignore. You have to be strong enough to fight the longest battles and tender enough to comfort the deepest wounds. You have to have a high standard and yet always choose the relationship above that standard. You have to have super- sonic hearing and also be half deaf. You have to forget offenses toward you and pursue repair even if it isn’t your fault. You have to set realistic expectations but always believe in fairy tales. Parenting is hard. I don’t always do it well, but I hope you remembered how hard I tried. I tried so hard. I made so many mistakes.
I wish I could pick your memories. There are so many sighs I would like to breathe away. There are so many words I wish I could take back. Please remember how I sought to repair my offenses toward you. Please remember that I always reached for you, and how we started the day over on a clean slate. Remember that you can bring anything to me, anything at all, and I will always want to be in relationship with you. If you remember anything, please remember this. If only I could be your memory keeper…
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