Loving with Open Arms

I’m sitting here having my coffee just having finished reading a chapter in one of the most boring text books to have ever been written. I looked up across the room and saw the sun shining on my carpet through the big front window.

Back up a little and you’ll see dog slobber prints all over the window that the sun is shining through. You’ll see smears and foot prints on the wood floor beyond the rug. The beautiful sunlight is also illuminating the tumbleweeds of dug fur that have been blown under the chairs. Not to mention the fur and animal cracker crumbs ground into the carpet, the dried splash of coffee on the kitchen floor, the pile of dirty clothes beside the basement door or (just around the corner) the bathroom sink that is smeared with blue toothpaste-y spit.

When I let myself get caught up in all that I haven’t done, I go a little crazy. When I spent last weekend making power point presentations and studying for exams and trying to play with the kids instead of sitting them in front of the t.v., there’s just not a lot of scrubbing being done.

But when I take a step back and ask myself how I feel about my life, I swear that the dog fur doesn’t even really matter. I decided to just focus on finishing school this year, even if that means a messier house and kids in full time child care. And even though I’ve had my doubts (a lot of doubts) about this program and if I truly “fit” here, I made a decision and I’ve committed to it and everything seems just slightly better than it did when I was undecided.

Sure one of my classes makes me question my ability to stay awake every Monday and Wednesday from 2:30 until 3:45 and yes, I find online discussions about Wage and Salary quite dry, but the end is in sight. And then I’ll be able to move on. And the best part is? I’m pretty sure I know what I’m going to move on to. Or at least, I know what I want.

I made a promise to myself a few weeks (or months?) ago – to be present with my kids. And I’ve been doing it. And I’m proud of myself for that. We lay out tomorrow’s clothes the night before, and we eat breakfast together and I pack Leila’s lunch and yes, sometimes we yell at each other, but every morning before stepping onto the bus, Leila lifts her face to mine with her lips puckered for a good-bye kiss. I love you, I whisper into her hair and she climbs up those big steps carrying a backpack that’s almost as big as her. And then I scoop Alena into my arms and we watch as she climbs into the front seat and scootches over to the window and she smiles her big smile and waves enthusiastically and blows us each a kiss.

Alena squirms to get down once the bus rumbles away and she runs up to our house and into the driveway and tags the car and yells I winned! and I bemoan that she is always faster than me and always winning this race and I help her into the car and buckle her chair and we drive down the road, eventually catching up to the big yellow bus. The bus makes a turn into the school yard and Alena and I keep on going down this busy country road until we arrive at her preschool. And she hops out of the car and scampers up the stairs and bursts into her classroom with a big smile on her face and her friends squeal ALENA!!! and in the moment before she runs to them she turns to me, fierce in her love and squeezes me as tight as she can and through her little arms wrapped, monkey-style around my neck I feel the energy and potential and love and hope and strength in this little girl. I kiss her bow-shaped mouth and she bolts across the room to the window where she’ll wait to wave goodbye as I climb into the car outside.

And that’s how my day, five days a week, starts. Sure some days, my eyes feel tired in my head, and some days my heart feels heavy leaving them, and some days my body is exhausted and I’m overwhelmed at the responsibility that I have. But never, even when I’m sad and tired and overwhelmed, do I ever take those goodbye kisses and hugs for granted. There will be a day (soon, I expect) that Leila won’t want to kiss me in front of the school bus and there will be a day when Alena figures out that I’m not actually running as fast as I can during our race to the car.

My mom sent me a silly forward the other day about mothers and as I read it, my eyes filled with tears. It still feels sometimes like I don’t know what I’m doing, but if the way those girls love me with open arms and hearts is any indication, I think I may be doing something right.

One Comment on “Loving with Open Arms

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