In my daughter’s eyes, I am a hero.
I am strong an’ wise,
And I know no fear.
But the truth is plain to see:
She was sent to rescue me,
I see who I wanna be, in my daughter’s eyes.
The lyrics to this Martina McBride song always make me tear up, because I often feel like I am letting my children down. I am a far cry from being a hero and some days a poor excuse for a role model. I have two daughters, 27 months apart, that always seem to be vying for my attention. Just the other day, my middle daughter flat out told me, “I feel like we never have any time together. You are always tending to (older brother) or (younger sister).” With a dramatic eye roll, she added, “You know, middle child syndrome, mom.” Our conversation definitely didn’t make me feel like a hero.
I do feel flattered that she wants my attention, but I thought I had already been giving it. I wake my children up for school in the morning, make what passes for “breakfast” in our house and confirm that everybody has their key with them. Sometimes I feel more like a manager than a mom. I come home from a day at work noticing what they have failed to do, like clean up the kitchen, walk the dog, get their homework started, empty laundry baskets, etc. What my children haven’t done I do, and I feel like everything I do is for them.
Isn’t it funny how we define attention, though? My children don’t see these things the same way. What more can we give our children when it already feels like we give so much?
When my son and oldest daughter were little, I gave them a book called I Love You the Purplest. It was such a delight that I shelved it for their future. The story is about two brothers seeking their mother’s attention and questioning who she loves the best. She speaks of how she loves both of them by attending to each one’s special and individual gifts. One of them is loved the “reddest” and the other the “bluest” which when combined creates the “purplest.” She poetically elaborates on each one’s uniqueness and how the love they generate is different but equal.
I was thinking of this book again recently when my middle daughter was eating dinner and no one else was around. I sat with her at the table and started a conversation about her day. Then I said, “Do you know when I baked the potatoes today my microwave was speaking French?” She grinned sheepishly, because I’d known she was the one who reprogrammed the microwave because she’s been taking French in school. She started spouting off words she had been learning and after a moment showed me how she had programmed the microwave to read another language.
Our talk deepened as we discussed the Sasquatch Club (apparently lots of students are looking for Big Foot in Southwestern Ohio), and other things that were going on in her life and at school. It was a simple conversation. It was meaningful. It was about my child.
And it only required that we each open up a little bit, to see how red or blue or purple our love for each other is.