Thursday, April 15, 2010

A For Effort

A year ago this week I walked up to the high school and sat through some p.c. "Welcome to Our School District" meeting with a pit in my stomach. We STILL didn't know if we wanted to send Annie to Kindergarten or to Young Five's, and the meeting was no help at all.

I saw my neighbor walking up to this year's meeting on Tuesday night as I was heading to book club, and I couldn't help but think what a different space we're in now. We had Annie's spring conference a few weeks ago, and she could not be doing any better. She is thriving. She is excelling. She is reading far above a level anyone expects for end-of-kindergarten; she is competent and confident with numbers and counting by twos and fives and tens; she stands in line and laughs with friends every morning; she has plenty of playdates and birthday party invitations; she loves her teacher and every single thing about school.

Without us even bringing up the subject, her teacher looked at us across the table and said, "This is the right place for Annie. I really can't imagine having her in this class next year." And I finally - finally! - breathed a sigh of relief. Because even as the year progressed and things seemed to be going well, I would sometimes find myself wondering if we were rushing her to grow up. I found myself loitering in the frozen foods aisle one day at the grocery store, pretending to look at the edamame so I could listen to two moms (both strangers) discuss what they were going to do for their on-the-fence-birthday children this coming year. I found myself wondering, What If . . .

There's no way to know what things would be like if we'd chosen the other option, of course. Even as I feel relieved, validated, encouraged that we made The Right Decision, I know that the other choice would probably have come to seem like The Right Decision, too. There's no control group for life, no way to see what would have happened.

Every day, I try to be the best mom I can to these two little girls, and every day I fail. Even on days when we've painted rocks and made powerballs and cheese cookies for a snack and done a million fun things, there are moments when I lose my patience, when I send Annie to bed because she's lost her little mind and I know a bath and a story are not going to work, when I don't feel like praising every single stroke of a Crayon. I hope they remember the messy, floury moments with the rolling pin and not the yelling; there's no way to tell. But this last year, and the happy ending that's come out of it, has encouraged me to trust myself more with the choices and the decisions. Instead of living as though children come out with the words, "Don't Screw This Up" stamped on their little foreheads, I want to live as though they are branded with the reminder, "Just Love Me the Best You Can."


  1. Um...I'm crying. Your posts so often speak to me and my insides in a way that is difficult to describe. The last sentence is particularly poignant. I'm working on getting to that place where I'm not living like every little thing I say or do is going to screw her up. But, it looks like it'll be a long road. Thanks so much for writing. You are a writer!