I’ve never told you that sometimes I’m a bad mom.
I don’t always remember to read with my daughter every night. I didn’t do a single in-kind activity with her during her last semester of preschool. Some nights, I forego the bath, because we were out so late having fun. And she’s often the one who reminds me that her teeth need brushing.
I am the parent who forgets to sign the forms for school, and needs frequent e-mail reminders. Some nights, when we’re at the boat, we pick up a Happy Meal for her to enjoy. Bedtime involves her watching Cinderella, until she’s ready to go to bed (which, surprisingly, always happens at a reasonable hour). In spite of my resolve to be “natural” and “countercultural,” she knows all of the Disney princesses by name, owns numerous electronic toys, and loves playing Mario Kart with Rob and me.
Our life is one of squalor. While we once aspired to have the elegant label of “minimalists,” we now live in a way that transcends labels. My bicycle, with my helmet slung off of the handlebars, is the focal point of our living room. Beanie’s tricycle stands next to it; there is no point in putting it away, because she rides it nearly everyday. At times, her toy train runs through the entire apartment, acting as a means of transporting her toys from one room to another. Boxes are strewn about, with boat and moped parts ordered from around the world. Behind our table, a tiller handle is propped up against the wall (oddly enough, we don’t have sails stashed anywhere in our apartment. That might be a first). The once-empty master bedroom is now completely full. The plastic kitchen that we pulled out of the dumpster has become a Doc McStuffins hospital, with a few teacups hanging amidst the stuffed animals. In the middle of the floor, Beanie’s bicycle and scooter stand ready for action. Her cardboard playhouse occupies the wall opposite the kitchen, and that is where she enjoys her movies. The closet is filled with toys removed from the toybox, and her Pikachu and pirate costumes are strewn about on the floor.
It was in this squalor that my morning began, today. I had made my way through our kitchen, filled with the remnants from last night’s cooking experiment (I have yet to have success with perogies, but I won’t stop trying!), and created some coffee for Rob and me. After coffee and conversation, followed by a shower and my morning routine, I made my current favorite breakfast, one fried egg with pepper jack cheese. So far, I’ve loved 10 pounds off of my body, by eating simply and mindfully.
While fully enjoying the soft yolk and crispy whites, I heard some chattering just before the master bedroom door opened with a cracking sound. Beanie emerges, with her hair disheveled, wearing the sundress she fell asleep in, with temporary princess tattoos covering her arms. With a sleepy smile, she climbs onto my lap and leans against me, her ear over my heart.
A year ago, she could not speak in sentences. Today, she proclaims, “I love you, Mommy!”
She draws her head back, grins at me, and relives our spring break adventures. “I go to Kemah boardwalk,” she begins. “I ride Jungle Bounce. It is so high! I go to music park (the park near our marina slip has an area where you can stomp the ground and hear a great drum beat. At the end of this post is a video of Beanie dancing to it). I go to Houston Children’s Museum. I want to be a doctor. Or an ambulance.”
I know she means “paramedic.” I smile at her. The world is your oyster, Beanie.
I’ve finished my egg, and it’s time for her to eat something. Breakfast and lunch are when Beanie eats the most, and she’s still pretty twiggy, so I’m always eager to get her lots of healthy calories. I consider making her a PBJ, but today seems to require something special.
I’m not a good cook. But I have a friend who is, so I used his pancake recipe. I poured too much batter into my cast iron pan, and it spread to completely cover the surface. Thus, Beanie was treated to a “gigantic pancake,” which she excitedly took, once I had placed it on a plate.
“I want a Pacman pancake!” she announced. I asked her if she wanted me to make it into a Pacman. “No, I make a Pacman pancake,” she insisted.
So Jelly Bean joyfully ate her creation, then caught me trying to make more giant pancakes for the rest of the week. She danced in front of the container in which I was placing them, until I gave her one more.
Later today, she will head over to Grandma and Grandpa’s apartment, where she will spend the night. On Monday, she will accompany me to the gym, for my yoga class, and she looks forward to playing with the kids in the nursery.
I’m not supermom. But who is? Within the squalor of our life is something very real, very pure, and very deep.
This is love.