2.12.2011

An Open Letter to My Daughter

Dear Smootch,

Lately we've had a some difficult times.  You have just been through the stomach flu.  You've been in trouble for using inappropriate language.  You've run out of clean underwear and socks in the drawer and I haven't gotten around to folding the clean laundry mountain.  This house is messy, I know, and it frustrates you when toast crumbs stick to your bare feet when you walk through the kitchen.  I don't know why they didn't put in enough shelves.  Yes, our last house, the good one, had lots of places to put things.  You also had our own room.

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This past week, when you woke up every two hours, aching belly, to cry over the toilet, I stopped being sympathetic about 4 a.m. and snapped at you to get over it already, damnit. I was really really tired.  Sorry.  I am only human.  I suppose when I became a mama I had my membership to humanity revoked, the influence of my own chemistry and deficits no longer an excuse in the face of my Great Responsibility.

Still, old habits die hard.

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And now that I know that when you originally heard the word 'stupid,' it was from me yelling at another driver.  It's just one of the many colourful and exciting words you've learned at my side.  I see how much I influence you and maybe I came down a little too hard on you when you called your brother that word. Maybe.  I do feel bad for the shit storm that was unleashed when your father heard you say it.  Then again, I'm a little perplexed at your selective learning, how you can learn so well to say something, but fail to learn to stop saying it. 

I think maybe that you might be human too.

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And, yesyesyes, I am a terrible homemaker and doer of the domestic arts.  My mom isn't too hot at it either.  Actually, I'm pretty good at cleaning and cooking and sewing and laundry and decorating, but not at the same time.  As in the same year.  I am disorganized and a bit of a slacker too.  When you and your brother are, in those rare moments, engaged in independent play, I tend to sit down and read a book rather than tackle that pile of dirty dishes.  Because books make me feel alive and doing dishes makes me cry.

Sorry about that.

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While we are on the topic of housekeeping, I do want to point out that it's not one your strong points either.  Be honest now, when I ask you to pick up your toys, do you industriously get to task?  Or do you melt into a pile of tears because, 'it's too hard!'   And where do you think toast crumbs come from?

Just sayin'.

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There is absolutely no denying that we have a crisis of storage space.  My ideal room has two large windows, with plenty of sunshine, a long table in the middle and nothing but shelves on all available wall space.  If there is any extra floor, more free standing shelves. 

It looks exactly like a public library.

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Most houses built in the 1950s, when this house was built, did not envision having a family live, work, and learn all within the house.  It was a time when home was a sanctuary away from the outside world, not like now when we try to bring the whole world inside with us.  They didn't even see the washer and dryer coming.  They certainly didn't see how much stuff a person has when they are trying to throw as many interesting things to explore in front of their children as possible.  Or the two hundred pounds of craft and art supplies.  Or the hundreds books piled in drifts around the furniture that is, in this era, much bigger than any of the doorways, creating a puzzle when we ponder how they actually got the couch in the room in the first place (suspicion falls on the badly sealed front window).

Times change, and we have to deal with what was, what is now, and what will happen all at once.  Which means the now isn't always ideal.  Okay, the now is never Ideal.  But still, there is the next house.  Only four months still moving day.  We'll get one with more shelves, yes?  I can't promise you anything about your own room.

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Okay, you aren't thrilled with moving anymore. Sorry. Yes, I tore you away from your beautiful blue home, sold it to a family that painted it pale green (oh, the horror!).  It's the home you keep reminding me you and your brother were born in (well, sorta) and nothing has been good since we left. I remind you that since then of the ocean you played in daily, the funky markets with the over sized sculptures, the owl that captured your heart, the wild bears fishing for salmon, the museums, the lakes, the unforgettable roads. The chocolate shop on the harbour with the park where we visited so often they put a picture of your chocolate smeared face on the wall.  Of the prairies and fields you've walked, the harvest you've gathered, of the friends that could not of been if we had not moved.

Okay, at least there was plenty of chocolate, yes?

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It is true that I have made mistakes. We could of played it safe, and solidered along where we were, assured that we would have the comforts of the familiar and the safety of assuring that our yesterday melts into the now and then tomorrow seamlessly. Putting up more shelves as needed.  Striving for Ideal.

But, is that what would of happened, if we strove for stasis?  None of us know what we will truly need tomorrow. When our habits and knowledge no longer meet the current situation, what can we do?

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Imperfection does not mean that everything is bad. Adapting to meet challenges makes you stronger.  Like how you have to work a muscle to exhaustion before it builds up more strength.

Yes, I actually said challenges make you stronger. I know, shocking. Rise up, girl, and meet them. You are so capable.  You can grow into a new paradigm.

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During these times when the Discouraging seems to outweigh the Awesome I see you struggling with circumstances created by my faults.  My potty mouth, my disorganization, my bad housekeeping, my predilection for moving house and home.  My inability to hang a shelf.  I mess up plans, I fall down, I fail to hold up my end of the bargain.  I get distracted.

Mama ain't perfect.

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You can thank me anytime.

41 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing such a touching letter from a human mom.

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  2. What a beautiful post ~ thanks for sharing!

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  3. So glad to know I'm not the only one who opts for a book over the dishes! Thanks for being so open and real--it's so refreshing!

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  4. Wonderful post! Kids need to learn that their parents are only human, and we need to realize that those little people are human too. So easy to overlook sometimes.

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  5. F***ing amazing (us potty mouthed slackers gotta hang together). But really. So, so honest, and kind, and beautiful. Even the toast part.

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  6. Would it be ok to admit that when I read this I finally burst into the two and half hour bawl that I've been needing desperately to have but couldn't seem to get started. I feel guilty alot. You and I have talked about that in emails before. Thank you for being honest. And thank you for being human enough to help me get that cry going that I needed REALLY badly.
    X

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  7. Thank you for this honest and unflinching post. This is a wonderful, lovely example for Smooch! Damn it! ;-)

    --another member of the potty mouth slacker club

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  8. It truly is amazing how like attracts like. I have the same domestic (I am not a big fan of the word) problems. My version of cleaning house is picking up all of my crafting stuff to make room for more crafting :)

    I also have the same problem where I seem to forget that my child is just that, still a child. She is very mature and independent, so sometimes when she needs my help, I get frustrated with her.

    Then I get mad at myself.

    I appreciate the honest and knowing I am not the only mom like this.

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  9. And I love seeing how Smooch goes about a painting!

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  10. potty mouth slackers unite! i only clean when the dust bunnies start sending the little dust bunnies to school.
    a lovely, honest and refreshing letter - thank you for posting it.

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  11. Thanks for that post! It's nice to know that someone else feels this way too:) Aren't our kids lucky?

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  12. If your potty mouthedness consists of calling someone stupid, you are being WAY too hard on yourself. :)

    Seriously, beautiful, beautiful post. They grow up like comets-whoosh-and it sounds like you are enjoying this time and keeping what's important there in the center of your life.

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  13. F*** perfect!!! Perfect is boring, and perfect makes you do what everyone else does and perfect makes my heart sad.

    What a beautiful painting :) . I think that is proof right there that you are doing a great job.

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  14. Wow, so touching and real it brought tears to my eyes. I cant tell you how many times ive sat at home crying because I just cant figure out how other moms do it. It feel so good to know others are out there dealing with the same issues as we are.

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  15. I don't know you. I only read your blog for the first time tonight. But you must be my sister from afar. Amen to every word you wrote. Praise to your honesty. And a big ol' hug from a fellow potty mouth momma who is so thankful other momma's are only human like she is.

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  16. I think creative potty mouthed slobs (like me!) make fine mothers! I mean, look at the alternative... Which mother would you rather have? (-;

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  17. That is truly the best, most wonderful, beautiful letter I've ever read. Thanks for sharing....

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  18. beautiful! I owe my own girls and myself one of these letters.

    xoxo
    ML

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  19. Thank you for posting this! So sweet....and so identical to our lives.... I love it!

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  20. You say all the things I need to say to my oldest daughter. Thank you for sharing it. So beautiful and well written. Love it.

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  21. Thank you so much for this post. I did that same bit of snapping at a stomach sick child in the middle of the night because for goodness sakes! You've been whinging for three hours and you're waking up your baby brother and you should have eaten the more fibrous vegetables I told you to eat in the first place! Not my finest mommy-moment, and so nice to hear that I'm not alone. I cannot read most mom/craft blogs, because the facade of perfection is too strong and I forget that that's all it is: a facade. That and you have the best tutes. Also: I'm thrilled that I'm not the only one with toast crumbs across my kitchen floor and a clean laundry mountain!

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  22. Sometimes its hard to remember that there are a ton of mothers out there just as frustrated, just as tired, just as fed up with cleaning, as you. This is one of those times. Reading your blog made me feel like I was finally on a united front. Rise up mamas! With all your curse words, toast crumbs. But sit back down with that book before you get tired.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  24. Hell to the yeah. Can I send this to my 4 yo??

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  25. Well said, well said. It's hard to know you aren't perfect, because isn't that what moms are supposed to be these days? I love that you embrace your flaws and know that it is all part of who you are, and who your daughter will love you for. ♥

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  26. So very correct! I hope this is something you have either already shown to Smootch or will one day. Give her a true insight into being a Mama :o)

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  27. Ahhhhh...thank you for this!!!

    Sometimes, it buoys my heart just to hear other people admit they're human and the kitchen floors are sticky too.

    You're amazing. Love your blog.

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  28. AWESOME post!
    <3 your blog!
    Stopping by from:
    http://madeofsnails.blogspot.com/
    &
    http://staceylovesscents.blogspot.com/

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  29. We've got only little little ones at my house right now so I haven't yet started seeing my kids' faults as contributing to their unhappiness. I hope that when we get there I can speak to them (or at least of them) with as much compassion and frankness as you do in this letter.

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  30. Yes, there are never enough shelves! I totally agree! But she wont remember that so strongly as she gets older, she will remember the time you spent with her and her brother. The hours of doing things together as a family.

    I had the mom that kept the house spic-n-span; everything in it's place and place for everything. But then again, I did not have the mom that did crafts with me, read to me, or took me to cool places just because either. But our house was immaculate.

    All in all, I think your way is by far better.

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  31. That is mean-you are an adult! If you want her to rise up-you should stop whining too!

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  32. I adore how you write, but this time your words were competing with the play by play photos of Smooche's beautiful painting. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  33. thank you for writing how we all feel from time to time.

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  34. I read this last week (or the week before?) but I have thought about it quite a few times since. I am so inspired by how honest you can be. So honest with your daughter, with yourself, with the world. Its great and this letter is BEAUTIFUL!

    thanks for sharing.

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  35. Brought tears... and a calming acceptance of ME. Thanks for sharing.

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  36. As I wipe away the tears I'm thinking OMG, we live the same life! (I am new here so am just getting caught up with ALL of the great stuff here and don't know how many little ones you have) With 3 little ones aged 8 down to 4yrs (and lets not forget the 2 dogs!) home with me all day every day in the same tiny house with NO storage, trying to not lose my mind but at the same time so grateful to be able to be home with them though money is more than tight on one income! And unable to make them understand how lucky we all are to be together, looks like a time for my own letter :) How many years do you think it will be before the little ones will be able to appreciate the words you put down? So glad to have found your blog.

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  37. I think I might love you, just a little bit...

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