It was obvious from an early age that Linnea is an empathetic person. We’ve tried to foster that natural tendency, but it definitely has more to do with her own personality than anything we’ve done. Even before she was verbal, if she noticed someone was upset, she’d do what she could to comfort them; laying her little head on a needy shoulder, gentle little hand pats and snuggles offered freely. Yet even with the knowledge that she’s like this, she still manages to take me by surprise with just how empathetic she truly is. This evening while I was getting her ready for bed, I was seriously struggling with her hair. She’d requested a French braid and it just wasn’t working for me. I was tired and sweaty after dealing with double bath time since her little brother had pooped in the tub... again (he’s decided this is an excellent game), so that didn’t help my mood. After my third attempt was getting me nowhere, I threw in the towel, muttering a curse word as I pulled out the disaster of a French braid and informed Linnea that, “Normal braid is all I can manage tonight.” She looked at me calmly in the mirror as I disgustedly wiped sweat from my forehead and upper lip, glaring at the offending hair. “Ok, Mum.” I felt guilty and more than a little immature. “I’m not mad at you, bug. I’m just tired and I can’t seem to get the braid to work, so it’s annoying me. But I’m not annoyed with you!” “I know, Mum. It’s ok.” So I set to work, pulling her hair into a ‘normal’ braid (that still didn’t look all that great, but would have to do). As I was finishing up, Linnea said to me, “Mum, you’re doing a good job.” Oh. I looked up at the mirror and those intelligent eyes watching me through it. She offered me a smile that showed she meant it, every word of it. “Thank you, baby.” I smiled at her and tried to will my eyes not to well up. Seriously, how did I get so lucky? After a moment, I said to her, “You know, Linnea, it’s things like that that make me so proud of you. You are such a nice person, a kind person. That was a very nice thing you just said to me and it made me feel really good. You make me so proud!” And she does. Every, single day, that kiddo makes me proud. Sure, she does some not-so-great things on occasion; she’s human. And sometimes, she drives me more than slightly batty (not that I need help with that…) but more often than anything else, she makes me glad I became a mom. Because even if I do nothing else to make this world a better place, it’s better because she’s in it.
I have not been blessed with the virtue of patience; it’s never been a strong suit of mine. And while I’m much more patient with my kids than I am about most anything else, I still tend to blow a gasket far more often than I’m ok with. Especially when I’m tired. And these days, I feel like I’m most always tired. The one who bears the brunt of this is my daughter. That amazing little person who’s just being a normal kid, a normal (actually, to be honest, much better than normal) three-year-old. I’m not proud of it and I regularly tell myself that, “Enough is enough, I’m going to be better about this.” And then I’m not. Editing our annual family photo album today, I came across pictures of Linnea helping her Pappa and Uncle change the tires on our car. And I wonder, how did I get so lucky? She’s such an amazing kid. And once more, I wish I was better. I wish I was more patient. I wish her constant barrage of “Why?” didn’t drive me up the fucking wall. Because she’s a kid. She’s supposed to ask all these maddening questions, it’s how she learns about the world. Still drives me nuts. When I start to feel guilty about these sorts of things, it’s easy to fall into the trap of tallying up all the things I’ve done wrong; the things I could do better. And that list is long. But then I look at those pictures again. I look at that happy face – that truly HAPPY kid. And I know we’re doing ok. I know I’m doing ok. Yeah, I screw up on the regular, but I’m raising a couple of awesome little people and I’m not doing half bad (if I do say so myself). And here’s the best part: they make me a better person. Those little people. They drive me crazy and, yeah, I lose my shit far more often than I’d like. But more often than not, I reel myself in. Or, at the very least, I apologise. And my kids see a human. And when my girl listens seriously as I explain that Mum messed up and “I’m sorry,” and then tells me “S’ok, Mamma!” and gives me a hug, a part of me I didn’t even know was broken heals a bit more.