Thoughts on appreciating those little moments that mean the world.
I don’t know about you, but my life is crazy. I think many of us feel like we hit the floor running and don’t stop until we collapse in bed at night. When my kids were little, I never thought I’d get a whole night’s sleep again. It was always some tiny victory if I could even find the time to brush my teeth before noon.
I have two kids. Both of whom I love more than any words could ever convey. But, this post is about the first one. Oh, the first one. I remember my horror when I first realized that kids don’t come with instruction manuals and that they didn’t even make me take any tests or sign up for some parenting license when I left the hospital with her. It was terrifying. I stayed pretty much terrified for the first year. I recall rushing her to the hospital once over what turned out to be a mosquito bite. They gave her some Benadryl and then said, “That will be 500 dollars, please.” (I like to think they said ‘please,’ but I have my doubts.)
With my second child, my response to injuries sounded more like this, “It’s just a head wound. It’s no big deal. They bleed a lot. Fine! We’ll go to the emergency room.”
I never thought motherhood was for me. I heard about the early and long “work hours,” which scared the bejeezus. After I had Kinsey, my daughter, they wheeled her away for her tests while putting me back together. They moved me from delivery to my hospital room, and after they made me a sammich, I drifted off to sleep. Then around 3 a.m., a nurse came wheeling her back in my room and said in a sing-songy tone as she opened the door, “Someone’s hungry!”
My heart leaped with excitement as I sat up! I could see her big, bright eyes shining from my bed. Oh, I had missed her. I couldn’t believe I could miss someone so much that I had just met four hours earlier. Suddenly, I realized all the early and long “work hours” weren’t that way at all. I didn’t mind missing sleep or getting up at “Oh my Gawd, it’s early” hour. I mean, sometimes I missed sleep, but it all just felt so worth it.
But there’s one moment, and I’ll try to explain it as best I can, but this one moment stands out among all the others, and I’m not even entirely sure why. One night, she and I were driving back home from a friend’s house. She was only about six months old and was still in a rear-facing car seat. If I leaned my seat back a little, I could see her little face from my seat as I was driving.
As we were driving home on the tranquil streets that night, I was lost in my thoughts. I didn’t even have the radio on because I thought she had fallen asleep because she was so quiet. As we came to a stoplight and the street lights shone down into the car, I glanced back at her. There she was with those big, beautiful eyes looking back at me with such adoration. She looked at me like she just liked me SOOO much. It was as if she was thinking, yep, that’s my mom, and she’s pretty cool. And I looked at her and thought, yep, she’s my daughter, and wow, is she cool. I liked her too. We just had this thing—this moment. I remember making an important mental note that THIS right here is the good stuff in life and that I better appreciate it. I also took a snapshot in my mind, and to this day, I can see her face precisely as it was that night.
She’s now 21. This week she’s moving to Chicago, which is precisely eleven bazillionty miles from my house, and all I can think is, I’m not ready! I never put any thought into when they leave, when they show up. You plan a lot for their arrival—a ton. But I didn’t prepare for this, and I am SO not prepared. Yes, I also realize it’s not about me. I am over the moon for her, mixed in with a good amount of terror. I can’t tell her not to go. When I was twenty, I moved to Chicago for a short time. So that whole “you’re too young” speech will not work.
As she goes off into the great unknown, here are a few things that I do know. This girl, no, WOMAN, is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. She is intelligent, funny, and fun to be around. I love her wit and her keen ability to size people up. She’s so wise. She also has a heart of gold and is RESOURCEFUL AF!
She once duct-taped the clutch in her car where it connects just above the floorboard after the screw snapped, in the middle of the night, on the side of the road. By the time I got there, it was already drivable. When my boyfriend went to fix her car, even he was impressed with how she had rigged it. She didn’t panic. She just solved the problem. What a great life skill to have!
She’s also one of those super-intelligent people that will make an utterly nonsensical comment every once in a while. We went to see Willie Nelson in concert a few years back. We were right up front when all of a sudden, Matthew McConaughey surprised the audience by walking on stage to introduce Willie. Kinsey looks at me and says, “Dang, Willie looks good for his age.” I looked at her with a blank face to see if she was serious. She was, and I had to tell her it was Matthew McConaughey. It still makes me laugh to think about it.
You know, I screwed up as a mom. I guess there’s no such thing as a perfect mom, although I know a few people who are pretty dang close. I went down such a dark path for so many years then fought my tail off to fix it because I knew I had to be what I needed to be for my kids. I’m happy to say it worked.
I felt so guilty for so many years that they had to experience me at my worst. I refer to that time as my doormat years. But, if it weren’t for those dark days, they never would have had the chance to see what it takes to fight for your life and how much work and persistence is involved. I’m proud of the life I created. I became empowered, and they got to watch me do it.
Recently, I got the best compliment of my life when my daughter told me that I inspire her. Can you imagine? Can you imagine a moment and compliment like that? The truth is, she inspires me because she already has life figured out, and she’s good at it. She is wise beyond her years—in all things but Willie Nelson.
I also know that I am just as in love with her today as I was that night in the car all those years ago. She is the loveliest person I’ve ever met. And I am grateful for all the millions of moments we’ve had together and for all of those moments yet to come.
Best of luck, Kinsey, to you and Jordan! May all your moments be memorable ones. I love you, bunny.