Pick Up Time
I wish there were no bad days for any of us, ever. It’s true. I pride myself on being silly and making my kids smile. As soon as they get into the car, it’s game on. My time to shine. They are my shadows and when they have been at school and I have been at school, I miss them. I’m ready. I play “Too Legit to Quit” and convince them of how fun it will be to each take parts and sing it with gusto. Prim is now a master of the “hey, heyyy” part.
I ask them questions to get them talking and the car is buzzing with everyone trying to talk at once. What was the best thing that happened today? What was the worst thing? What did you eat for lunch? We enjoy being reunited. You would think more hours had passed between drop off and pick up.
My Every Word, No Bad Days
I come up with crazy things to watch their reactions. For example, Prim wanted to hear the song “Monster Mash” in the car so we played it. The next day I told them the strangest thing happened to me while I was on the way home from teaching. An elaborate story culminated with how when I turned a corner, something reached up and slapped me, right on the side of my face. No other explanation than “Monster Mash” jumping right out of the speaker.
I can see Prim’s face in the rearview mirror. She’s hanging onto my every word, and the sparkle in her eye and corner of her mouth turning up tells me she likes my story but isn’t going to fall for my tricks. I model for my oldest how I think her face should light up with joy as soon as she sees me pull up to get her. We practice. She’s a tough case these days but when she gets into the car she laughs and says, “I really forgot to smile this time.”
Always Smiling, No Bad Days
On a Tuesday afternoon my oldest said to me, “Mom, you never have a bad day. You are always smiling.” I was quiet for a few minutes. I then replied, “You think I have no bad days?”
I wish there were no bad days. The very day before was actually a very bad day for me. My comprehensive exam was pushed back a semester and I felt deflated. Off track. Behind schedule. I felt like I wanted to cry but didn’t even have time or energy to do that. I shared that with my daughter after her comment. I don’t want my bad days to be their bad days. I hadn’t mentioned it to them at all and they couldn’t tell that Monday was any different from any other day. I rolled up with all my usual, glorious ridiculousness that begins the minute it’s just us girls in Old Blue.
In a way, that made me really happy. But it also reminded me that being happy every second is not normal, and it’s an unrealistic standard that I never want them to think they have to meet. No bad days would be great, right? It led to a good conversation. How is finding joy in every circumstance different from being happy? And how do we hold onto joy when we are really pretty sad?
I didn’t want my bad day to be their bad day, and I’m sure my mom did the same. How many times I cannot say. I don’t remember, as a child, ever thinking to ask my mom how her day was or if she was happy.
I was fortunate to go to the Dominican Republic this summer with my oldest daughter. When the trip was over and we were saying goodbye to our tour guide at the airport, she said something I’ll never forget. I heard her tell my daughter, “You are wonderful because your mother is wonderful. Learn everything about her that you can.”
There is so much that our mothers experience that we only learn later, or never learn at all. Those words of advice were profound.
Recognize the Reasons
I definitely have bad days. Some are cry in the shower days, and some are cry in the kitchen days when I can’t hold the tears. Some are wipe the tears quick days, and even my littlest still notices and asks what’s wrong. I want to be mindful of the lessons I’m teaching them. It’s like the old question, “Is your attitude determined by your heart or by your circumstance?” My goal is for my answer to be my heart, and for my girls to grow into that answer as well. Being happy every day doesn’t mean that everything went perfectly. It just means you can recognize the reasons you have to keep going forward.