Love grows

I think one of my favorite things about being a mother is knowing that when my kids think of me each day--they smile or laugh or roll their eyes--because I'm their mom.

Tonight I played a pickup game of soccer with Mya across the street in our neighbor's yard, and as I moved my arms like an octopus in the goal or outran her to the ball on more than one occasion, I watched her smile and laugh at me, and I thought, I am creating a memory. But not just for her, for me too.

I just sent Elle upstairs after coaxing her out of a fit of rage. Granted, she's up past her bedtime, but the tantrum was just silly and unnecessary. Tim didn't have the patience for her, and for some reason I did, so I just talked to her quietly as she paced in circles, crying and smacking her hands against her legs. Knowing it would only aggravate the problem, I did not raise my voice. I just watched her and talked her through her thoughts until what seemed like a small miracle, she just stopped crying, and she curled up into a ball next to me, waiting for me to run my fingers through her hair. I did, and then I wiped the remaining tear from her cheek and whispered, "I love you more than all the chocolate chips in the world." The smile that spread across her face told me she was ready for bed, and I'm certain she'll fall asleep dreaming of chocolate chips and her mama.

This week has been a little touch and go with Felicity. She's struggled to communicate the pain she feels around her ears after her surgery, and I have found myself carting her little body around the house or in the store more than I would normally do, but I haven't minded. She has a way of looking at me that tells me I am everything to her. And although it's added a little more weight to my step or a little extra work to my load, I know that everything I do to ease her discomfort means the world to her. Of course, she does not say it, but she does not need to.

Just like Felicity has a look when she looks at me, so does Genevieve. Genevieve is a particular soul. She holds so much in that I struggle to know where she is, but then she has moments where she'll let me into that special place inside, and she'll tell me of her struggles at school with friends or about the things she does to help other kids feel happy at school. I wish so badly that I knew more about what she thinks and feels; I often worry that she lives too much in the shadow of her overly dramatic sisters, but I think she knows how much I love and appreciate her--and how much I need her in my life as a daughter and as a friend. She sees me in a way that perhaps no one else does--she always sees the best in me.

And then there's my bubba. I would say 90% of the time he only has eyes for me. Whenever he can't find me in the house, I will often hear the familiar voice yell "mama...mama...maaaaamaaaa" until he finds me. I love how he runs full speed into my arms. And I love the grin he gives me when we are reading books in his room before bed. He is all mine, and I am all his, and we know it. It is our brief, uninterrupted time, and we both soak each other up as much as possible before I lay him in his crib and place his blankets all around him.

Everyday, even the hard and hellish ones, I feel loved. I feel there are people who see me, believe in me, and hope good things for me. Most of those people aren't even in their double digits of age yet, which is incredible if you think about it.

I often wonder how I've been able to foster this great love I feel for and feel from my children, and I think I owe a lot of the credit to my parents who taught me to love without reservation, even when huge reservations perhaps deserved to be made. They didn't always make the correct steps in life; in fact, a recent experience showed them and me how much impact a painful misstep could have, but they have always moved forward, with a resolve to be better and love more deeply than before, and I think they've succeeded at that, and I hope to as well with my own children.

I've made huge mistakes--one in particular haunts me in my dreams from time to time, but I continue to follow the example of my parents and create a home where creativity and independence thrives, and love grows. It will make all the difference in the end.

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"Be kind and considerate with your criticism... It's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book." Malcolm Cowley