…didn’t really weight a lot.
If you know this song, I apologize. If you don’t, you’re welcome to subject yourself to it here.
Years ago, when I was a wee one my Uncle Jon (who is all of 18 years older) gave my sister and I our first Christmas Albums. I got the Carpenters and Sarah received Barbara Streisand. I’m sure he just stuck our names on them without thinking but it actually turned out to be the right choices for both of us. Karen Carpenter is amazing for so many reasons… but more on that some other time.
Sarah played Babs to death. Particularly Jingle Bells. We would try to sing it without needing to breathe and then end in giggles. We can talk about the need for a Jewish Woman who made strides for her religion in film to put out a Christmas album with the Lord’s Prayer and other very Christian songs, let alone the pressure for all artists to produce Christmas hits another time.
Anyway, there was this song: The Best Gift
The best gift of the year to me
The one I hold most dear to me
A gift that simply drove me wild
Was a tiny new born child…
On Christmas morning I was awoken about 4am with aches, chills, cough, fever, and vomiting. Yes, you’re welcome. I had been asleep all of 2 hours. I completed a day of services and dinner with some Baltimore family. I wasn’t feeling great that day, a bit of a cough, a little run down, but I didn’t think too much of it.
I had been planning, working, singing like a mad woman for weeks, on top of coming to the end of the year from hell. I finally got back in bed around 6:30 and calmed myself down. At 7am the girl was up, by 7:15 the boy. By 7:30 we were downstairs, the kids tearing into their presents. By 8 I had texted their dad. I couldn’t do it. There was no way. For weeks I’ve been fighting for my time for them on Christmas Day and thanks to the flu, I had to give it up. I was devastated, but I had no choice.
By 9:30 everything was opened, the kids were out of the house, and I was back in bed. For months I had been anticipating the day, I wished it away so many times. I got my wish.
This morning I awoke feeling better, the fever broke but I am still weak. However, I was well enough to finally see what I got for Christmas. They were all unwrapped, but I honestly was so worried about remaining upright that I didn’t bother seeing what I had gotten. There was one present, though, I remember in my fever induced haze, that I looked at again this morning.
To Mom from Maggie (your favorite daughter) (and only daughter)
Dear mommy, you work very very (100,000 verys) hard for us like cooking dinner, lunch, and sometimes breakfast and you do laundry, my clothes and Gus’s clothes and your clothes. That’s what is special about you. I love your talents. I love our family this way!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love you. Love, Maggie
This note was attached to a gift of costume jewelry that my daughter had picked out. My children are no longer newborns. They are 4 & 7. However, they are still by far, the best gifts I have ever received. Throughout this year my concern has been their welfare, their health, they are the only reason I have gotten out of bed more days than not this year. (and yes, it’s true, I only sometimes make breakfast, the other days they get it themselves…)
I pray I am as much of a gift to my children as they are to me. My son is wonderful, at 4 he is still completely oblivious to the world and full of excitement. There are days I believe he was put on this earth to make me laugh and smile. He is my extrovert, like me in so many ways, it’s scary. The boy never stops talking. Ever. Imagine that… The girl and I, on the other hand, have our moments. Like all mothers and daughters we butt heads, and understand each other beyond compare.
Last week she and I went to a family therapist together. It was time. When my ex and I first split the kids were a little excited, a new place! I had anticipated this. I had also anticipated that after a few months the excitement would wear off and she would want things to return to normal. I’ve seen this coming for a few weeks, particularly with my increased anxiety about the holidays.
Then the question came, “…but mommy, why did Daddy move out in the first place?”
My girl is an emotional, introverted child, she wears her heart on her sleeve. I love this about her. She worries about everyone and everything. As her mother, I am attempting to teacher her coping mechanisms so she doesn’t have the anxiety issues that have cursed the women of our family for generations. She journals like a mad woman filling pages of composition notebooks. After her therapy session the other day she told me she would like me to read her journals at the end of each day so I could best understand how she’s feeling.
In so many ways she is a gift. I am in awe of her self-awareness. I am in awe of how similar, yet extremely different we are. I am learning day by day how to parent an introvert who needs time to process, who does better when I communicate with her through writing. This is a new development given she only learned to read a year ago. who needs me to sit with her while she plays or reads. Who gets validation through my presence, not necessarily through my praise.
She is teaching me about life, about my shortfalls, about how to help and communicate with those different than me. But she is also teaching me about myself. That I have a capacity to learn and be amazed and be self-aware through her eyes. That she learned how to care for herself because I modeled it for her, encouraged and nurtured it in her.
Children are amazing. I am special, both because of and independently of my sweet girl. However, even this flaming extrovert appreciates seeing it in writing. This is, by far, the best gift of the year.