Pennie can be found sharing at The Accidental Blogger, a space where she opens up about some of the things that interest her most – like travel, cooking, canning, jewelry and writing.
I recently had the opportunity to participate in the incredible experience that is Listen To Your Mother (LTYM). My LTYM recap was shared here on Midlife Boulevard last week. Today I’d like to share my submission with you. My story.
“I love you tiny and big,” she said with a 3-year-old seductiveness as she mimicked her phrase with two pinched fingers for tiny and outspread arms for big. That about covered it for her. Sometimes she couldn’t love me big because she was overcoming a time-out; but she still loved me tiny. Now it had become a game. I would imitate her, hesitating between tiny and big, then watch her anticipation then satisfaction as I completed her favorite phrase: “I love you tiny… and… big.”
I don’t remember ever freely telling my parents I loved them growing up. I don’t remember being told often. We knew it, yet rarely said it. The few times we did, the expression swelled between us, tense, embarrassed, urgent.
My girls changed this. My mom can tell them easily and unencumbered by tension, “I love you.” I have noticed, however, that my 3-year-old never tells her grandmother, “I love you TINY and big.” No, for her Mama Nick, my daughter stretches her arms apart as far as possible (even her facial muscles try to follow her hands) and tells my mom, “I love you thiiiiiis much.” Big. Only big.
I wrote this twenty-three years and a dozen computers ago. My girls were joined by a baby brother less than a year later, and now I’m a seasoned mom of three adults. Through the mad rush of those mama years, I managed to save this snippet from my youthful, unseasoned motherhood, thanks to the nearly obsolete floppy disk.
What about that young mom who scribbled her thoughts on a floppy disk? She had no idea how to be a mother! She wanted to be a writer. Is she still there? Or is she obsolete, like the floppy disk? Did motherhood take the write right out of her? I confess, the fear that part of me stayed behind, lost on a broken computer, gurgles through my mind from time to time.
That young mom didn’t realize how peaceful and simple those first few years were, how suddenly the energy would shift to work, carpools, soccer games, choir, volleyball matches, piano lessons, and swim meets. Write a novel!? Who was I kidding? I needed two to three years to READ the novel on my nightstand.
I wish I had written more as the children grew up, when the experiences with them were fresh. I’d have snippets like snapshots about rearing children. Like the day my son was born, and how my second daughter refused to look at him or speak to me. About how, several months later, she would sit next to him and wait until she thought I wasn’t looking to steal his pacifier, take a few nom noms, then stick it back in his mouth. Or about their last bath together when they were three and one. She pointed at her brother who was twirling his finger in his bellybutton. “I want one of those!” she said. “But you have a bellybutton!” I replied, tickling hers. “No!” she retorted, pointing lower. “One of those!”
The humor and tenderness of mama journeys are often overshadowed by difficulties: the broken leg, the tantrums and time-outs, the dislocated elbow, the first heartbreak, the science fair nightmares, the lost jacket, the stolen computers, the stolen car, the lost phone. Let’s face it, the lost and stolen just about everything. I wish I had captured on a floppy disk more of those tiny and big moments in between the difficult ones.
The nest is empty now. I barely blinked! I would say “I raised my children well,” but that’s not the whole story. The learning was reciprocal. My children taught and continue to teach me tiny and big lessons. Lessons about their youthful world, lessons about myself. Listening to my heart was one of the biggest lessons.
I listened to my heart and started writing again.
Last year, I wrote a blog post for Mother’s Day. It started like this:
I didn’t plan to be a mom.
For the first quarter century of my life, I boasted that I’d never marry, that I wouldn’t have children.
I would write, travel the world. I would be a nomadic wordsmith.
Yet here I am, mother of three adult children. Where did I go wrong? I didn’t.
As I circle around the empty nest and back to that writer in me, I understand I truly didn’t go wrong. A tiny twist? A big detour? Yes and yes. But I love everything about the journey.
My tiny travel companions? I especially love them. I love them so big. Only big.
© Copyright Pennie Nichols, 2016. All Rights Reserved