I had such a lovely day with my youngest daughter yesterday. She had a sleepover with her friend the night before, and even though she had a minimal amount of sleep, she was super happy and ready for the day to begin. After making the girls my famous Nutella French Toast Rolls, they continued playing upstairs, and I drank my much needed (highly caffeinated) coffee.
Once her friend was picked up, and my eldest daughter was off with her friends in the city… it was just the two of us. We went on with our business for a while. I tidied up the house, threw in a load of laundry, and then peeked in my daughter’s room to see if she’d like to join me in walking the dogs.
To my surprise, she happily accepted my invitation. Normally walking the dogs is a chore and is followed by whining and complaining, and in general, I just don’t have time for that crap. Geared up for the cold, we headed out the door with the dogs hopping up and down and barking mad with excitement and possibility of what they might smell or eat (typically horse poop).
We live near a series of trails and farms, and there are random picnic areas and weird circular structures (straight out of The Blair Witch Project) built throughout the forest. No joke. I think these wooden forms are used as pagan sacrificial pulpits, but I digress. But, there is also a children’s obstacle course.
For some reason, my daughter loves the obstacle course, and she can spend hours in the woods going back and forth over it. She once tried to get Paco, our dog, to do it with her, but he wiped out from slipping on the debarked wood and now scurries the other way whenever she veers towards its vector.
Together, she and I enjoyed finding perfect sticks for Chica, our other dog, to chase and Paco to steal. A walk that could have taken 25 minutes ended up over an hour. Quality time with my little girl was just what the doctor ordered for this mama, who has been struggling to figure out what is going on inside her baby’s head. The ups and downs of transition are taking their toll, and I’m trying to help her work through things. Though, I feel as if I’m failing her at the same time.
She is an amazing kiddo… everyone says so. Her teachers, the parents of her friends, and her coaches would all agree. She’s slid into a comfortable groove at her new school. She has a sweet group of new friends and is excelling at school, according to her teachers. She’s taking risks by going to band camps when she doesn’t really know anyone else, and she still loves horseback riding.
So what gives when this little girl comes home crying because she’s terrible at multiplication, but come to find out she’s kicking the times table’s ass. Or, when she says she doesn’t have many friends but is where a “best friend” bracelet from one of her new classmates. The teacher says she is duping me, and I think she might be right.
Does she just need a bit more one on one attention from mom? If that’s the case, I’ll spend as much time as I can tickling her back at night and listening to her stories that don’t really make any sense. I’ll watch her homemade videos and guide her when she needs help making her crafts.
I want to keep her as little for as long as possible. But at the same time, I want her to grow into a confident and creative young lady. Her smile is bright, and her mind is wild with imagination, along with her hair that is held back by headband Axl Rose would covet.
So here’s my theory… Knowing whether we are on the right track with our kids is never easy or obvious. But, I find it reassuring when I score small glimpses into my child’s heart and see her big sassy smile come shining through like a ray of light. It reminds me I’m on the right track, and offers me sign that she’s doing pretty good for a ten-year-old on her fourth school in the same amount of countries.
In the end, we both know we love each other more than words can express, so I’m going to give both of us a break when we don’t feel like things are going so great. Life can be hard whether you are ten or four times ten plus two. We are both still kicking life’s butt, occasionally we deserve some extra self-care and mental health moments. It’s only fair to both of us.