My little girls keep getting older. (Growing up is something children do, apparently.) They are leaving behind moments more quickly than I can collect them. And in all the hurry, I don't always know that I remember to grow with them. The feelings of inadequacy have been sharp over the past several weeks. After a hard day and tears before bed (mine, theirs, ours), I go to sleep hoping to wake up the mother they deserve. The mother that can always soothe and understand. The mother that remembers to have tea parties everyday. The mother that captures magic in an afternoon walk and can get everyone to eat dinner at the same time. Or at all.
And then I do wake up. And I am just me. And I am so disappointed.
Viola is still my honey baby, my rosebud. There isn't a place in this wide world that girl would rather be than in my arms. She will learn how wrong she is soon enough, but until then we rock ourselves through the day. Her silent smile growing bigger and rounder and oh! Margaret is only three and I can already feel her dancing away from me. She can see beyond me and I thank God for her vision. But we still have some time and there is so much I want to give her and show her. So many things we go to bed without doing...so many maybe tomorrows. There is a white, hot urgency I can't ignore (at least not for much longer than one DORA! episode). I know I expect too much of myself. I know there is beauty in the quiet moments. I know in the end, the love I give her will have been all she needed.
And I know that right now, this instant, (whether I really need to or not) I have to do more.
We went to a book sale the other day. Margaret found a mermaid book and a corner while I wondered through the picture books.The room had the heady aroma of new paper. Delicious. I was so happy. I hadn't bought a new book in a long time. The girls and I visit the library, borrow from grandparents and find used books at thrift stores. Books still crisp in their covers are a luxury, purchased for birthdays and Christmas. But that day there was a sale and I had forty dollars in my pocket. The shelves were filled with pirate girls and hungry mice and a tooth fairy that was just so, so tired. I wanted every single one and finally went up to the cash register with six. Six hardcover, never been opened, look at those clean pages, stories that belonged to only us. As I walked to the car balancing babies and books I felt so proud, so happy, so motherly.
I cried on the way home.
That night with my girls breathing next to me I started to read. We met a boy that baked a cake for a princess (a mean troll ate it), a fancy Nancy and her fancy words (ballet is thrilling! Thrilling means exciting), and a lovely man named Amos and his best zoo friends (the owl is afraid of the dark). And then we followed a bird through spring (birds come from eggs!), helped a little girl get to know her father after WWII (sometimes everything really will be alright) and were reminded that lions like libraries, too (they just have to follow the rules. No roaring, please.)
Each time I open one of those books I feel as if I am presenting the girls with another world, another place to put their hopes and dreams and bright colored thoughts. For a moment that urgency inside of me cools.
And for just that moment, I know I am doing enough.