I never remember to check Zuzu’s backpack for notices from the preschool. Consequently, she showed up to picture day with her hair unbrushed and spring break came as somewhat of a surprise. I always remember to put diapers and wipes in the diaper bag, just never at the same time. You should see Riley’s face when he realizes he is going to have to clean a messy bum with a wet paper towel. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. And I have yet to meet a non-Christmas holiday with anything but a too late toss of discount confetti.
Christmas really is a joy around these parts. A month long party full of religion and goodwill and presents that wouldn’t fit through any chimney anywhere. But it isn’t enough. From winter to spring, every month features a new mythical creature that we are supposed to celebrate as it finds its way into our houses. Cupids, leprechauns rabbits. Every Pinterest filled screen has a new, better way to make it seem like a gold toting leprechaun really did traipse about the house. (Tiny green foot prints on the toilet? WHY IS THERE A LEPRECHAUN ON OUR TOILET?) And every holiday Instagram is full of pink milk and tassel garlands that ONLY TAKE FIFTY MAN HOURS TO ASSEMBLE.
It is exhausting.
I had big plans for this Easter. I felt I really had turned a holiday corner when I bought the girls their baskets in mid-February. But then, life happened. There were some big things, like my dad’s bone marrow transplant. But there were also so many other small things, like those days I just didn’t do anything about Easter because my goodness, isn’t that two weeks away? and maybe I should just concentrate on getting through today without going a little crazy and I have so much laundry to do and where are the keys? Oh my gosh, did I put them in the washer with the last load of whites? Wait, how would that even happen? I am sure they are somewhere. NO! They are nowhere! I washed the keys and now we will never be able to drive anywhere again…ever….
By the night before Easter, those baskets I purchased with such big intentions were still empty. My sister, Lindsay, and I went to Walmart to try and fill the space. There wasn't much left on the shelves and none of it had that magic my children have never been to Europe but their toys look like they have sensibility. There was a two foot tall chocolate rabbit with red lips called, The Big Diva. Actually, there were dozens of two foot tall chocolate rabbits with red lips. Not a huge seller.
Lovely Lindsay patiently followed me around while I picked trinkets up and put them back. It may have required even more patience to listen to me as I talked my way from one nearly empty shelf to another.
“I need to be better about this. I mean, they have so few years where the magic is really real, you know? Everything about my life needs to be more deliberate. Do you think Zuzu will like the blue eggs? Why did we come to Walmart? This is the worst! I want them to know they mattered more than last minute. I hate this about myself. Really, hate it. Which stuffed animal looks like something Viola would like? I don’t know. I just wish I had done better. I’ll do better. Let’s go look on the toy aisle one more time.”
An hour later we waited in line to pay when that little sister of mine said,
“Meg, are you going to be drunk on Easter morning?”
“Drunk. Are you going to be drunk?”*
“Will you feed your children tomorrow? Even if they get candy for breakfast, will you feed them?”
“Okay, do they know you love them? Can they be themselves around you? Do they feel safe in your home?”
“Yes to all three.”
“Okay, then calm down. They are getting everything they need from you. And probably a little more. You are a good mom. We all need to be easier on ourselves.”
So much unexpected clarity in that fluorescent lit space. My insides untwisted and I could separate the things that mattered from those that do not. The love and acceptance I give my two girls every day matters very much, the pastel plastic in my grocery cart mattered very little.
The next morning they woke up to baskets full of pretty things they loved in the morning and forgot by the afternoon. And somewhere between the receiving and discarding, I even think they felt a little magic.
Mothers, can we all let go of the guilt that follows us through every day? Can we stop lamenting the moments without pink milk? Yes, those tasseled garlands can enhance a moment but they do not make the moment.
Do your children know you love them? Can they be themselves around you? Do they feel safe in your home?
Good, then calm down. They are getting everything they need from you. And probably a little more. You are a good mom. We all need to be easier on ourselves.
And who knows? We all might even feel a little magic along the way.
*To be fair, when I relayed the conversation to my dad later that day he thought Linds and I had set the bar of good parenthood a little low.
“You are patting yourselves on the back for not being drunk?”
Whatevs, Dad. I will take what I can get.