Ava has been picking dandelions by the bouquetfull lately. Scott thinks I don't want to treat our lawn with fertilizer because I don't want the chemicals around the kids...the real reason, I'm thinking, is that there is no other free activity that I could conjure up that would keep her quite as content or give her the self-satisifaction that I find all over her face every time she ventures outside and spends 15 uninterrupted minutes picking 'flowers'...if you know my children you'd realize that this is actually a pretty big deal (that they would spend that much time focusing on one task!).
She's got Ella on the task now too. We went for a short walk this afternoon and every few steps Ella would announce with complete awe and enthusiasm, "Look Mommy, more flowers!"
We've moved beyond her just picking the heads off too! She is now an expert dandelion picker, picking carefully from the bottom and brining them into the house delicately so I can put them in water.
What momma would be able to resist this face and those flowers?
I have been giving them the utmost respect and displaying them with all the flair I can muster. Last week we used a clear class vase and floated them in water, yesterday it was a blue plastic cup set gently in the middle of the table, and today, alas, my favorite, a martini glass that I acquired from somewhere.
Ava gets this look of pure delight on her face upon first seeing them displayed on the table and then I find her reacting throughout the day, "Look Momma, the flowers are still alive!!!"
And these are the reasons I do not work. Truly.
When people ask me if I miss working or what the girls and I have been up to on a given day or week...I find it hard to put into words.
We um, pick weeds, and rocks, and make collages out of ripped pieces of paper. We also wander down the street and strike up conversations with old men washing their cars and old ladies who are sweeping their driveways. We admire the sun (when it is actually out here in sunless Buffalo!) and we notice birds flying overhead. We also, um, well, the girls put on tutus and dance around the living room and we read library books and, um, practice drawing letters is workbooks I buy from the Dollar Store.
Of course, that all makes it sound pretty easy and handy dandy...of course every day is a roller coaster ride of emotions and needs, bruised knees or today's blisters that brought on a full fledged melt down of gigantic proportions. There are muddy feet and hands to clean and jackets to put on an zip up. There are meals to make and bums to wipe and messes of ginormous proportions to clean up ALL over my house.
It's kind of nutty actually.
But, when prompted with the question of 'do I miss work' and 'will I go back' I can easily answer 'not right now'...even though some days I do miss it immensely and other days I'm ready to throw my kids at the nearest neighbor and go do something much more "career" oriented for a while. But, at the end of the day I find myself realizing I cannot leave them-- not because any one of these moments is monumental in and of itself, but because my girls are formulating their earliest perceptions of the world and I want to be a big part of that perception.
Just before I had Ava I very distinctly recall a conversation with another mother in which we were discussing the pros and cons of being a working mother. I was contemplating, naively, for I think I was merely pregnant with her at the time, if and when I would go back to work and what that would look like.
The woman I was talking to, however, said something to the degree of,
"I can't imagine working while my children are young. There are so many little things that I would miss. Their smiles, the first words, the first steps, all of the little things that happen throughout the day."
As a young, naive, pregnant woman, I nodded and smiled accordingly, but secretly recall wondering, Really? All those little things outweigh your desire to want to work? They'll take hundreds of steps, say billions of words and smile countless smiles throughout their lives...I'd probably be o.k. missing a few if I had to work.
Oh how little I knew.
Here I am, just about four years in to this gig as full-time mom and I've gotta tell you, I can't imagine letting someone else get to experience all of the little things that happen throughout the day...someone who wouldn't appreciate them a fraction as much as I do, someone who might not even notice them because there is not the same intimacy in relationship.
And while there are plenty of people who would argue that continuing to build "myself" is just as important as spending time with my children, I would be left to say that I have plenty of time to build "myself" in the years to come, but that my children will only be enamored by dandelions and worms in their sandbox for a very short period of time. They will only learn how to swing, for the first time once, (like Ava did this spring) and be able to express to me the unfettered joy of their independence at being able to do it in the very moment it is happening. They only have a few short years to nap in their beds, and to watch Curious George in their pajamas and to walk uninhibited down the sidewalk at 12:30 in the afternoon.
I did not reach this point without emotional struggle. There have been many, MANY days when I have wondered what I'm missing out on on the "other side of the fence". There have been many days I've wondered if anyone will ever take me seriously again if I apply for a "real" job. There have been many days when I would rather be editing a manuscript or writing a newsletter for a large organization than practicing writing the letter "D" in the right direction with a 4 year old.
However, I can finally say that I find more days now in which I feel blessed to be able to stay home with my girls than wishing I had made a different choice. As a therapist once said to me in my very early mothering days, "Lisa, you may always be a person for whom being home full time is a bit of a struggle, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the wrong decision."
And so here I sit, rattling off thoughts for my "mommy blog", thinking about next week's playdates, and waiting in hushed silence for my girls to wake up from their naps. I fit all of the cliches and I don't get paid a dime. My payment comes in the form of smiles, scribbled pages and lots and lots of dandelions and for the time being I'm o.k with that.