Lately I've been contemplating parenting at my age. My friends are becoming grandparents and I'm knee deep in speech therapy, gymnastics classes, inflatable pools, and poster paint.
I no longer wonder if I can do this......since I am doing it every day, with the help of coffee and an occasional Advil. I can still carry my girls up and down the steps. I never understood that story about picking up the calf and then one day you can't do it.....so I'm going to try and prove it wrong.
And I have found myself considering the relative advantages of parenting young children in middle age. I've seen enough time go by in my life, and I've seen enough changes, both in myself and externally, that I am more accepting of the ups and downs of daily life. And I'm less flustered by attacks on my time or my plans. Maybe I've learned how to be careful and not make too many plans, since ANYTHING can happen and often will happen.
Another observation I've made is the gift of being more fully present in the days of my life. I used to think I was working "toward" some yet to come time of life. Now I believe I am where I'm suppose to be and this is IT. There is not a dress rehearsal.
I try to remind myself everyday that a smile, a kind word, or a hug when things go wrong can make an even bigger impression than mommy turning into the Incredibly Hulk and ranting and raving about bad drivers, slow checkout lanes, and spilled ( I knew that was going to happen) juice.
Today started with a little stress. Delilah was going to try to take a preschool gymnastics class again. When she tried being in a class a few months ago, she did not listen to her teacher and she ended up roaming off to explore the gym on her own and quickly became a danger to herself and lots of gymnasts and cheerleaders practicing big tumbling skills. We had to remove her from the gym and hold her while she cried and Cami finished the class. Delilah wanted to go back in. She just didn't want to follow the rules.
So after lots of encouragement, role playing, and instruction, Delilah was excited to have another chance to go to her very own class. Cami has been attending a class, which made Delilah miserable to be left behind. And today she did great. Even though I was stressed about it, she walked right into the gym with her teacher and pretty much ran circles around the other little girl in her class. But she stayed with her teacher and followed her instructions, even when I could tell her brain was tempting her with it's own ideas. At the end of class, she was given a Popsicle and she left feeling really great about life.
Since I had watched Delilah push her bangs out of her face for an hour, I left the gym and drove straight to the hair salon where we often go for the girls haircuts. It was closed. Dark and empty. So many places have not been able to survive the economy. We will miss "Crewcuts and Pigtails", where the girls sat in little cars for haircuts and watched a DVD player installed at eye level and ate animal crackers. The haircut was barely a blip on their radar. A great concept, but a luxury, so when the economy changed, people didn't have to take their children to get haircuts as often. But today I was on a mission and would not be put off that easily. I drove across the street to a CostCutters Family Hair Salon.
I noticed a sign on the reception desk that said, "No Checks". I didn't have much cash, but I knew I had my paypal card. Delilah's bangs trim took less than 30 seconds and I'm pretty sure the $5.95 price was total profit. The stylist didn't taper, feather, or anything special, but at least the eyes are now more easily seen.
I pulled out my card to pay and even added a nice tip because the woman had been kind to Delilah and given her a little butterfly clip at the end. I was ready to leave, but suddenly the woman said, "oops, your card was declined". She tried it again. We waited. I hate those moments of waiting on a machine to decide my fate. Declined again. Hmmmm...... I thought I had money in that Paypal account, but it is also the account that some reoccuring charity gifts and miscellaneous charges are taken from and I don't keep up with when everything is due to be removed.
The hair salon didn't care about all that. They were just waiting for me to pay them. And I had no other way to pay. So, I did what all quick on their feet thinking moms would agree made sense. I offered to go home and return with the payment AND my other daughter to have her bangs trimmed. Luckily they trusted me enough to let me go.
I zoomed home and instructed Cami to quickly run to the bathroom and put on her shoes and we jumped back in the car heading for the salon. As soon as I walked in I decided to pay off the first haircut just to make sure the new (for emergency use only) card I had grabbed at home would work. It worked fine and I thought that was the end of my troubles. (Note to self: Keep more cash on hand)
Up hopped Cami, into the chair of the fastest bangs cutter in the South. She had her ten seconds of attention and we re-gathered at the reception desk to pay for this second haircut. Again, I was poised to leave, when the message appeared on the computer screen, Card Declined. "Let me try that card again".
Oh no.....the second decline said something about too many transactions for the same amount at the same place. I had caused suspicion by paying for our haircuts separately. The computer brain that decides whether or not to accept my plea for payment decided I was not worthy.
Now What? I was starting to feel like a criminal. As if someone would go to such trouble to rip off a hair salon for a bang trim. But seriously, they were looking at me.....waiting. Okay, I said, I will go to the bank and get cash this time. I'll come right back. Thankfully they trusted me again and Cami and I dashed to the bank, and we did dash, because honestly, this whole event was starting to bore me. There were a hundred other things I needed to do. On the way to the bank Cami started seriously complaining that she needed to use the bathroom. (Didn't she just do that at home? I knew I told her to, but I couldn't remember following up to see if she had. In mama-world that could mean most anything)
It definitely meant when I returned to the hair salon I couldn't just run in and toss them the money. I had to manhandle the car seat buckle for the 20th time and bring Cami back in with me. Ah! Cash. It always works. I paid again for an overpriced bang trim and left another tip because she trusted me. Again. Then, with receipt in hand, we had to pay homage, again, to the restroom at the back of the shop. And when you are with a 4 year old in a new bathroom, it must be properly explored and she MUST do all of the steps by herself which includes pulling off her own paper towel and coordinating the foot operated trash can. When said 4yo decides to do all her business in the salon bathroom in addition to all the exploring, long spans of time can be spent there. But I was patient and I smiled, because, what did it matter really. I was thankful for little bodies that work the way they should and for little minds that have room for details such as the scent of soap in this brand new place.
Finally we exit. I'm feeling more than a little conspicuous by now. It would be nice to go home and crawl back into my cool bed. But since we were on a roll, I decided to take Cami on one more adventure....... to Staples. I thank the stylist and told her we would be back, though definitely NOT today.
Staples was uneventful. But I have to say Cami has a knack for finding the coolest things in stores! We came home with a dry erase board by Crayola that has templates for writing letters and numbers along with blank templates for drawing. Something good for school. And as I re-entered the atmosphere of my house, I found it to be just as I left it, messy and muggy and waiting. Delilah was eating corn chips in the den right out of the bag and leaving a trail behind her.
I wanted to forget it all. I wanted to forget I was a mom for a little while and sit down quietly. But breakfast needed to be cleaned up and lunch needed to be made, and even more pressing was the box of paints Cami had found at the store. Not the muted and pale watercolors we've had before, but real, thick and dark, poster paints. These were the real thing. School paints. And we are a school, right? So as soon as we set the bags down, the paints just HAD to come out.
It was about as messy as I expected. Delilah somehow got paint on the BACK of her shirt and in her hair, but it's washable and the table cleaned up fine. I gave the girls a limit of two papers to paint and then the noodles were ready and finally I had that sit down with a cup of coffee. And I thought about how crazy the day had been and how happy we all really are and what the world must be coming to if you can no longer write a check for a haircut. And I realized that while it's far from perfect, I am DOING THIS. And I'm thoughtfully present and aware of all these precious days, though long they may be. And as tired and old as I feel, in the big scheme of things I hope my children remember me laughing. I hope they remember the paint. I hope I show them my soul because it's ageless. And I'm thankful to be right here where I am.