Erin Snyder, my close friend for half my life, and her daughter Mira came from Chicago to celebrate halloween with my family, and we did it up big: pumpkin patch, fall festivals, trick-or-treating, etc. Still, I had daydreamed about even better and more prior to their coming and wanted to, for example, bake apple dumplings for them. Erin knows me better than most and therefore was under no illusion, I'm sure, that I would be a Martha-Stewart-like hostess, but, in my heart, I wanted to be. To be even more specific, in my heart, I wanted to be Martha-Stewart-meets-Jo-Frost (of Supernanny). So you can imagine that I was particularly disappointed when I found myself looking across the table at a hot-chocolate-drenched, head-back-and-howling, Clementine.
Don't you just hate it when your plans--from the best most beautiful place in your heart--get all messed up? Even worse, don't you hate it when you've tried to do a perfectly sweet something for someone only to have it go terribly wrong? This particular morning, Cade was drinking hot chocolate, and Clementine (who has a recent obsession with "big people cups" and runs through her life on the look-out for ones to grab) wanted Cade's hot chocolate really badly. So I made her some. I microwaved milk for sixty seconds until just warm; mixed in some Swiss Miss; poured it all into a kid-friendly, plastic and rubber elephant mug; and gave her a straw.
As it turned out, there were a couple of errors in my thinking. First of all, I should not have put so much hot chocolate in the mug. And the straw was just a source of confusion for Clementine, who tried to drink out of it while simultaneously holding and tipping the cup. She was soaked and bawling in a matter of seconds. I moved into action, consoling and wiping...keeping my cool on the outside, while--on the inside--feeling frustrated, defeated. That's when Cade looked at me and said: "You're a really good mom."
Amazing what those words have done for me: just to know that someone saw and appreciated my heart-felt efforts. And--if my oldest and only (at this point) rational child thinks I'm a good mom--for what else can I ask, anyway?
Upon reflection, I am taking with me two thoughts. The first, as I have shared with Cade, is that it really IS possible to turn someone's moment, day, week, etc. around with a few words of encouragement. I am going to look even harder for opportunities to do just that. The second is that it may matter more what I do, or don't do, with how I feel than how I feel. I have been trying so hard to be ok on the inside, even when my kids are crying or draining me of every type of energy known to man, or even when other things go wrong. And I think--as a general rule--it's good and important to be ok and not just seem ok. But I guess there are moments when seeming ok is plenty good enough...