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There is an Eric Carle board book about a little girl who asks “Papa, can you get the moon for me?” And her father gets a ladder. When my boys were little, I read this to them. I kept it because when I see it on the shelf, I think of the many ways, as parents, we want to give it all, to make the pain go away when they hurt, to make their joy last forever, to protect them. To never disappoint them or make mistakes. To hang the moon. And also to know, while we can’t hang the moon, we can revel in its beauty. We can enjoy it. And we can parent beautifully all the while making mistakes. We are human. I am human.
Motherhood, there is no perfect or even “Super Mom.” To my mind, there is “Good Enough Mom” (or GEM, a nice acronym, don’t you think?) and she is different for each child and family. This week, I not only intellectualized being a GEM, I felt it in my bones. I absorbed the joy knowing I, along with my husband, am not just doing something right, I do believe I’m crushing it.
First day of school family dinner. My sons couldn’t wait to take their respective turns sharing. Middle schooler went class-by-class in vivid detail. The words “fun” and “awesome” were used repeatedly. Fourth grader had already spilled the beans at pick up. “Mom, we did the most ginormously awesome science experiment.” “Wait, let me turn off the radio so I can hear every word.” And he told me the intricate details, every single one. The repeat story for the rest the family was just as exciting. These are happy children, wonderful children, fulfilled children who are engaged in the world socially, academically, musically, athletically.
Later, middle schooler riffed on his violin while doing orchestra homework practice. I’m glad we didn’t force the practice issue over the summer. The break served him well.
The GEM. Letting them grow into who they are. One who creates new species of amphibian/dinosaur sketches with detailed drawings, imaginary habitats including feeding patterns, measurements, prey, predators. Who has watched me like at hawk since my shoulder surgery. Who leaps at the chance to help, even if it’s not manual labor but notices I’m in pain, or even just sad from the long recovery. Who holds me when I cry out of pain and frustration. Nurtures me with compassion and genuine empathy. Kisses my forehead. Teases me when I’m barefoot, standing 5’10″, kissing the top of my head “Such a cute little Mommy, look at you, you’re so little and cute. I love my little Mom.”
One who smiles all the time, wants to be around others and just be, just share time and space. Who loves to watch football with Dad just as much as he loves to read Winnie the Pooh with Mom, warm in the crook of my arm, eyes closed quiet together, just breathing. Who cracks jokes like a seasoned comic and laughs with abandon.
Both, who, when they smile at me and hug me, have taught me what a melting heart truly feels like.