Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A lesson in perspective from my daughter’s three-year-old classmate

HolidayPhoto

I admit, I’m ill-prepared. It seems like no matter what, I can’t ever catch up with my to-do list. This is our first celebration in our own home, but the house is messy. I haven’t thought of our Christmas dinner, let alone shop for it. We’re still at the “turkey or duck? turkey or duck?” stage of the planning. Oh, who am I kidding? What plan?

Then there are the gifts of course. Is it enough? Too much? Did I miss something? Would she like this? Would he balk at that? Constant fret and worry. Until I went to Little Miss’ preschool Christmas party.

HolidayPartyAtSchool

There were mostly kids and teachers, with only a couple of parents in attendance as it was held in the middle of the day, so I was an object of curiosity. I sat by the kids’ table and they were all over me, thrilled to converse with an adult. I was bombarded with:

“Why are you here? Look at my dress! Where’s Little Miss’ daddy? I’m Emily. What’s your name? My mommy is at work. My daddy is at home…”

Then I turned to another little girl who was also vying for my attention, and I asked her, “What about your daddy?”

She simply said, “My daddy died.”

All canned response evaporated in my mouth. Nothing I had in mind to say seemed to fit. I couldn’t process past the fact that she was only three. Like my daughter, whom I have so far shielded from words like death, dead, and dying. And here’s this little girl who had no choice but to live with it before she even knew what it really meant.

But she continued matter-of-factly, “My daddy is in heaven, and that’s my mommy over there.”

She pointed at the preschool teacher who taught four-year-olds.  She seemed to be my age, possibly younger, and my heart went out to her. Then it all came back to me - the story of a man who went missing last year when Little Miss first came to this school. He was found dead several days later, and the school prayed for the family during our first general assembly. But we were new then so we never knew who they were except that their family was closely connected to the school. I remembered the somber gathering. Even the tears.

Looking at the teacher who was smiling and laughing at the kids now, it seemed rather disconnected to the reality that just hit me. This would be her second Christmas without her husband, the girls without their dad, who was cruelly taken away from them. And here I am, fretting about gifts and dinner. Suddenly, none of that matters anymore.

We will have gifts. We will have dinner. But more importantly, we have each other. Because of that, regardless of the presents that we open or the food that we eat, it’s going to be a wonderful Christmas.

HolidayLove

May you have love and joy this Christmas, and every day of the new year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

“Will you take a leap with me?”

I admit, I like to play it safe. I don’t gamble, I don’t skydive, I don’t buy a product with no reviews, I don’t even drink more than a cup of coffee a day on week days even though it’s one of my favorite things in the world. I have always had a predictable, stable income that came with medical benefits, or at least made sure someone in the household did. And I always pay my taxes. On time.

I think you get the picture. So imagine when My Guy quit his job last week with nothing more than a dream to be an entrepreneur, some savings and a lot of hope that he will succeed.

I knew that day would come, as he’s been preparing for it since I met him, but with two little girls now, I almost went into a panic attack when he first informed me of his plans. What about health insurance? The car? Cable? His penchant for expensive hobbies and gadgets? Weekend brunches? Daily coffee breaks at giant chain stores? Did I mention health insurance?

My Spidey senses tingled. But he was prepared for my questions. Because this had been his plan all along, he had done his due diligence. For every question fired his way, he had a logical answer.

Still. They were mostly theories and hypotheticals. Of course I unraveled again when we spoke about the unspeakable: What if you fail? What if we can’t afford this life? What if someone gets really sick? What if, what if, what if... A reaction that was typical of me, the safe-better. Or worse, the naysayer.

This conversation didn’t just take one night. It took the course of several hours in several days, imagining every possible scenario. We spoke ad nauseam. He knew I was worried, so he talked and I listened. And sometimes, it was the other way around. It was a big risk. With a family, a monumental risk. He knew that, but he wasn’t doing this just for himself.

He was doing it for us so that he could be there when we needed him. So that he wouldn’t miss his kids’ events because of some work-imposed deadlines. So that he could be more than just a breadwinner. He wanted to be here. With us. This new endeavor would allow that. Or at least he would make sure it did.

Then one day, out of the blue, he took my hand in his, looked me in the eye and asked, “Will you take a leap with me?”

Staring back into those eyes that drew me in all those years ago, it reminded me of why we were here today. His passion, his intelligence, his ingenuity, his ambition - they were why I fell for him in the first place. So why would I even think to stifle those parts of him that made him who he was – ones that endeared him to me? And somehow, at that very moment, I knew that we would be fine.

It wasn’t the guarantee of success that calmed my nerves, for there was none, but it was the faith that no matter what happens, we will make this work. As a family. I could tell our support was extremely important to him, because essentially, he wasn’t doing this just for himself. He was doing it for us too.

And I thought to myself - how cool would it be for our girls to witness and be inspired by their dad who dared to break out of the mold to pursue the goals that were important to him?

Then I realized I wanted this for the girls. I wanted this for him. And I wanted this for us.

And so I climbed out of my comfort zone, and I said yes.

 

MyGuyAtTheAdventServiceMy Guy, who missed Little Miss’ stage debut last year because of work deadlines, made it this year with us.
I will take that as a good sign.


Since then, he made the arduous but necessary preparations to get his business going full steam ahead and when the stars aligned, he quit his day job.

We are at week one of this new chapter in our lives. Our routine is in a tizzy, but I suspect that we will find our groove eventually. It’s still too early to tell what this will do for our family in the long run, but unlike a few weeks ago, my panic attacks have dissipated.

Instead, they’ve been replaced by the strength of my pride and faith in this man who dared to follow his dreams. And took me and the girls with him.

I know this doesn’t seem like much. It may even be a no-brainer for some, but for a girl whose own dad left his family behind as his business ventures took off, whose anxieties stem from an absentee parent in childhood, this means everything to me.

* * *


This post is dedicated to My Guy who could. And did.

I am in awe of you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Child star redux–no soup stains this time!

We did it! We remembered Little Miss’ evening performance during the Advent service and dressed her accordingly in the morning for preschool, unlike last year’s soup-stained-SASSY-printed-tee-shirt-and-pant-leg-in-boot disaster. Her 100% cotton dress wasn’t anywhere as fancy as her friends’ outfits as it lacked the intricate lace and luxurious velvet of a holiday dress but what the heck, she wasn’t wearing a t-shirt. That’s a huge improvement for us.

Together with My Guy, my mom and Thumper, we occupied half the pew in church as we watched our preschooler make faces, prance, climb on her seat, giggle with her friends and, oh right, sing Christmas songs. As the kids began to squirm and breakdance in their seats at minute nine, I knew I wasn’t wrong in questioning the school’s decision to serve these kids ice cream for dessert before the service. I mean, really? Here, get your sugar rush but make sure you sit still on stage!

Remarkably, apart from kids ready to spring from their seats at the end of the service, the evening went without a hitch. Thumper, who missed one of her naps, seemed to enjoy her first time in a church. She watched her big sister shine as she sat quietly (and extraordinarily) content on my lap so her sister could have her moment all to herself. Despite the lack of sleep, it was a fuss-free evening for us. And when we reached home, both kids happily went to sleep. And stayed asleep.

I know. I could hardly believe it myself. An evening with no incident. Suddenly I found myself here, at the computer. It’s been awhile, and I’m dying to write. To breathe life into these words that have been swirling in my head for over a week. So I do. Except I really shouldn’t.

There are unfinished handmade thank you cards stacked dolefully in a corner, begging to be sent/set free (because - and I should be embarrassed to admit this - Little Miss’ birthday party was almost a month ago!). A holiday party menu to plan. Christmas gifts to purchase. Misfits to return. Pants to hem. My baby’s issue with solids to research. A book club book to read. Holiday decorations to complete. Cookies to bake. Next tweet to make on Twitter. The constant cycle of laundry - to wash, to dry, to fold, and to ignore.

So really, I have no business being here. Except I need to be. Because breathing life into these words doesn’t just sustain my blog. It sustains me.

And because I wanted to capture this evening, for my Little Miss’ sake (and, in a small way, to selfishly redeem ourselves for screwing up my daughter’s stage debut last year). I think we did all right this time, but next year, she’s going with velvet.

And lace.

 

TheNationalConcertErrr…no, this isn’t my daughter’s performance. This is The National; her dad and I were at their (kickass) show the night before. Why am I showing you this? Because, come on, a concert is a concert all right?

And, uhm, because we botched the pictures from her performance this year - they were all blurry and distant.

Like this:

AdventService2011

See? So much for redemption.

Guess you’ll just have to take my word for it. She wore a dress. No stains. Cute girl.

The end.

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