Abby had her dance recital this past weekend, it went very well and she did wonderfully. For her first experience being on stage in front of a large crowd she was very composed and remembered all her steps well.. but oh those butterflies! Poor thing was so nervous, she tried really hard to contain it and we had numerous discussions about how being nervous was perfectly normal and it happened to everyone. I stuffed her full of as much banana as I could (due to it's perhaps real or perhaps imaginary calming properties that at least made me feel like I had done everything I could.) Then dropped her off at the backstage area with a passel of other kids all in various stages of undress, and hoped and prayed that all would go well.
Abby has undergone a softening of her previously fiercely self assured personality in the past little while. She is feeling more, and acting less, she is growing up and becoming more aware of herself inside her surroundings which can be enlightening and terrifying too. So I wasn't sure whether she would calmly let me leave her to the chaos of the room or hang onto my legs sobbing and fervently request to accompany me to my seat.
Luckily, and I have a beautiful little girl in a sailors suit to thank for this, she made a friend instantly. They spent their time before the performance parading around together introducing each other to their classmates. SO really I had nothing to worry about, my little Abby who so easily makes friends and treats them well always rises to the top, not that I was worried mind you.... really... wasn't worried...
She danced beautifully and when we met her after the performance with two of her very best friends a bouquet of roses from mom and dad, and a potted gerbera daisy from Papa and Grandma she almost cried from joy. This child amazes me everyday, she is so thoughtful and considerate, intelligent and inquisitive, I see myself, then Seth then something completely amazing and new in her.
I was told about sleepless nights, I was warned about frustration, fear and worry, I was aware I would never have any free time again. But no one mentioned the awe, the elation, the pride and wonderment that having and raising a child brings to your life. The love that almost rips you in two.
Yesterday was Mother's Day. In a botched attempt to decorate a cake at the local grocery store we found ourselves walking the aisles at 10am on Sunday. A normally quiet time of day there was the odd shopper getting a last minute boquet, or bag of oranges, or in our case 4 pounds of strawberries because Norah is a maniac for them and they were on sale.
The rail thin blond women barely able to walk down the aisle caught my attention immediately. It always amazes me that when I am out with my children and there is something outside the norm how quickly the fight reflex rears up, (for the record I have yet to find my flight reflex, but that's just who I am.) And this gal was pinging all the 'abnormal' alarm bells for me, maybe 80 pounds, 8 inch heels, ripped jeans, ripe smell, several glittery ripped worn out t-shirts overlapping... and keeping steady only by holding the hand of the small 4 year old child walking beside her.
I must admit that my very first reaction was to fiercely fight down an impulse to run over and grab the child. No child should have to steady their mother while she lopes sinuously down a grocery store aisle like a drunk Giraffe. Or look up the scarred and trackmarked arm to dilated pupils and a stupid cheshire grin. That adorable boy who repeated and repeated the list to his mother while she stared at him and stroked his face over and over repeating words of affection.
I wondered if she saw him, or even knew where she was.
The moment really stuck with me through the day, I went to a lovely affair titled Listen to Your Mother and amid moments of laughter and grief shared with a roomful of mothers, mothers to be, or the mothered I thought again of that blond gal and her son. Did she love him? Did she love him more than the drugs coursing through her veins?
I am so lucky, I know who I am, what I want and where I am going. I can take care of my children and be present for their daily lives. In a brief moment of viewing someone else's I know that despite the moments of hardship and frustration, despite not always feeling appreciated or noticed or special, I have one very important thing. Myself. and I can teach my children to be strong and vital and take care of their bodies and minds, that love is kind and gentle and fierce and fiery but it is never ever selfish.