My bedtime routines with both of my children are extremely special to me, one of my favorite parts of the day. We read and sing, read and sing. Katie and Eric hear lullabies together, and they each have their own personal lullabies, too. Singing Eric to sleep tonight, I watched him looking up at me from his crib. He is a soulful guy, looking deep into my eyes, sometimes cooing along. Suddenly something gold and glittery caught his eye—my heart necklace, which I’d forgotten to take off tonight. He reached his little hand out toward it, touching it as it dangled there between us. I extended our song, just to watch him playing, loving his happy little expressions and face.

I wondered if one day he would be an old, old man, a grey old man, wrinkled with places laughs have been, his eyes still twinkling with a life long and well lived. A time so far in the future that I am not there… I wondered if he would remember somewhere in his heart the faintest image of my dangling heart necklace, and the sound of my voice from ages past telling him that my heart is for him, and Katie, and Daddy.

Imagining a time when my children are without me is hard to do, even if it is the natural course of life. I want to be with them always, to protect them, to smooth and comb Katie’s long grey hair and tell her that it is okay when her body hurts, or to be there to give them comfort when they both lose people that they love .

I wonder, too, very often…what will their memories be of me? In those moments when they are looking way, way back on their lives, what will they feel about me as their mother? Will they understand how much I have loved them, despite the many mistakes I have made and will continue to make? Will they feel my presence around them still with happiness and take comfort in our days and memories together, or will they wish I had been different somehow? I am far from perfect as a human being or as a mother—how much will that matter, and what can I do now so that they will always feel my love?

Katie and I discovered several patches of ice this morning on our walk. We had so much fun hunting for it, stepping on it, touching it. We also had a library day this afternoon and came home with so many treasures. She loves the globe we bought a few months ago at the local teaching supply store (my paradise—in fact, I have to prevent myself from going there or I will start overspending our budget), and we talk about the different countries while looking at it almost daily. We found several books that will help to supplement those lessons. Every time we hear about a place on the news, we look it up on our globe. Coincidentally, she has been really into Egypt for awhile, long before the protests and fighting broke out, so we’ve been talking a great deal about that whole area.

We spent the whole time between bath time and dinner time cuddling and reading, and it filled her up. We have been having some mealtime issues again, lately—and I often forget that  it is not about the food, or even about me making the food and her rejecting it. When she starts feeling tense (she was expressing recently that she misses our one-on-one time together), she will only pick at meals…or ask for certain foods but then not really eat them. When she sees me react to this (and invariably, my reactions go from patient the first couple of days to extremely irritated several days in—not so great, huh?), it only becomes more of a “thing.” We finally had a breakthrough tonight, though, sitting together and reading and focused on each other while Eric took a later afternoon nap. I had her help me when it was time to make dinner (tonight was one of those nights where we were looking for anything on hand). I made a big deal out of making her a special pineapple and maraschino cherry fruit salad. I gave her a spoonful of the cherry juice and said it was “medicine” to help her get her appetite back. (Is this like a really big no-no?? I try to come up with creative things, but who knows what it will do in the long run?). Anyway, after that, she said her appetite was back, specifically, “my appetite for variety” (yes, really, that’s what she said)…and she ate a pretty big dinner, for her. What a relief!!

So, yup, parenting is not easy—-and not because of my children, but because of my own lack of creativity at times. I just hope they remember the “heart necklace” times, the singing times, the hunting-for-ice times. Joy is taking responsibility for our own deficits, as well as our skills, and knowing that we are only human. In knowing that we have limitations, we begin to take the first steps in aiming for something beyond them.

Someday when Katie and Eric are looking back to their youth, long after I am gone, I hope they remember that I was honest with them about what I lacked, as well as all the love I really possess…and I hope that gives them solace and joy.