That are the weepy kids books. Books like The Giving Tree. Billy Crystal’s I Already Know I Love You. One Dylan picked out at a garage sale, about butterflies and a little girl moving through the grief of her abuela dying. These are the books that only I pick to read- and only when I am feeling chipper and silly enough to not weep through the pages.
Over the weekend, Little Miss was so kind to add another one to this truly touching collection: My Mommy Hung the Moon by Jamie Lee Curtis. In the course of reading this book to them, I had an epiphany.
The book is told from a child’s point of view (this feels like a book report, but bear with me…), about how wonderful his mommy is. Each of the stanzas expounds on her amazingness, and each picture has a little hint that this mommy is quite normal- like the rest of us.
“She pours all the seas, and sparkles each star. And then she collects one in my night-light jar.”
The nightlight jar is a bug jar (with upside down bug) on the window sill.
“She grows all the food and makes it from scratch…”
The daughter is bringing in groceries while the son gets a piggy back ride through a very farm like back yard.
“…and when she bakes me cookies, it’s a big momma batch!”
The cookies are from pre-made dough.
There is nothing in this book about paying the mortgage. Getting to school on time. Keeping clothes mended and clean. Scrubbing bathrooms. Getting dinner made. Changing the battery in the smoke alarms. Nothing to indicate that this mommy has any job in her world except hanging her kid’s moon. And that– (this is the epiphany) is the way it should be.
Dylan and Fia never give a second thought to the food on the table. Because they don’t have to. Ditto on the roof. The clothes. Being clean and healthy. They don’t wonder if mom’s job is stable, or if they will get to see my on any given night. They trust- so completely with their whole being- that everything that needs to be taken care of just IS.
So toward the end of a long week- when I am stressing about all these other parts of my mommy job- and I get frustrated at them for expecting “too much” of me when I do “so many mommy jobs that they don’t even notice”, I am foolishly asking them to view me through adult eyes. As much as I want them to see how hard I work to make their world, and be patient with me when I run out of steam or get frustrated, it’s not going to happen. If they could see the level of effort it takes, it would be proof that I had failed them. In asking for their understanding, I am asking them to see all the danger, and wanting, and “what if’s,” and gaps in their world. Why? So they can acknowledge the (tremendous) amount of work it takes? So they can validate me? So they can put on their own pajamas without complaint?
SO not worth it- right now, they don’t see the effort because they can’t comprehend a world where that kind of instability exists. I am doing my job, keeping all of the things mom’s lose sleep over tucked away so they can JUST BE KIDS. That’s THEIR job.
This week, I made a conscious effort to hang their moon. I tucked away my mommy eyes (as much as possible) and tried to see things from their point of view. Dinner always pulls me away from the kids- how can it not?!- and they have a hard time with my attention being on something else so soon after we reconnect. So I premade dinners and spent more time on the floor talking and playing when we got home. At bedtime, when the list of things I need to get done started frantically running through my mind, I made my ‘to-dos’ wait and read a few extra books- WITH the fancy voices. I got up early to make lunches and squeeze in my coffee time so that when they got up, I could hold them into wakefulness and sit down to breakfast with them. I let them sleep in my bed so they could eek out just a little more snuggly family time around work and school. I stopped to sing their praises even as I was pumping gas, doing dishes, or trying to get all of us to the car in time.
It was TRULY a beautiful week. It wasn’t perfect- it never will be. I am EXHAUSTED. The laundry is piled up. The extra work I brought home every night is haunting me, due tomorrow. But I have never seen my kids hold my love in such high regard. THAT is worth it.
“My mommy hung the moon. She tied it with string. My mommy’s good at everything.”
Even the stuff they can’t see. But it’s the little things that count in the end, anyway.