There are candy wrappers and plastic Easter eggs on every horizontal surface in our family room. The bench in front of our couch is covered with wrappers, eggs, and jelly beans. The chairs of the love seat are full of baskets, more wrappers and a half eaten chocolate bunny. The drawing table and the console table also hold trash and open plastic eggs. The day of Easter always feels colorful and bright with a sense of rejuvenation, yet the day after looks trashy and feels like an insulin coma. I want to clean up the mess, but a little voice inside my head is saying “Let them enjoy the gifts they received. What’s the hurry?” So I scoop up the trash and leave the candy, eggs and crayons scattered around the room.
It was earlier than normal, but it still felt like the right time for Kennedy to start falling asleep. As I walked into the room, she was in bed, already under the covers. I snuggled up next to her with my arm around her neck.
I could see that she was intently thinking about something. It was a school holiday and she spent the day at my parents house, and I guessed that she was about to tell me something about their day.
“Mom, I wish it wasn’t a school day tomorrow. I want to spend every day with you. I wish I didn’t go to Grammie’s today. Why did I choose Grammie’s instead of going to work with you?” Kennedy’s voice was heading towards a familiar high pitch.
“It’s ok, sugar. It might be a fun day at school. And I’ll be there at 3:00 to pick you up.” I reply.
“But there are eleven works on my work plan tomorrow, and I won’t be with you, and I get scared sometimes that you won’t come pick up me after school.” She confesses. As soon as she said that she gets scared I won’t pick her up, I feel like I am four years old again, standing on the sidewalk at St. George’s Episcopal school, crying for my mom to come get me. My mom never left me at school, but I always felt afraid that she might.
“Kennedy, I will always come pick you up. I always have, and I always will.” I say with a very comforting tone.
“No Mom! You always tell me those things. I’m six years old, I haven’t learned all of those things yet, like not worrying about being left at school. I don’t want to go to school. I want to stay with you.” She started to cry, and I thought how I really don't understand how she feels. I wonder what it's like to see other people bring themselves out of fear and not know how to do it. My heart tugged in her direction.
“Oh, I know exactly how you feel. I feel like that sometimes. I love spending every day with you, too. We are here together now, though. Let’s enjoy this.” I reply. I wonder if these are the right words or if I just validated her anxiety. I don’t always know how to respond to her fears so I decided to stop talking, just listen and pass love from my arms to hers.
Tears stream down her face, and I hold her closer. Her little face nestles next to my neck, like tight puzzle pieces.
I run my fingers up and down her arm, and she asks “Mom, how did you get so good at scratching my arms?”
“It’s one of my Mom Super Powers.” I tell her and then I hear that she is contently sleeping.
I lay there holding her for a little while longer, and the next time I opened my eyes it was 5:00 in the morning. I didn’t mean to fall asleep with her, but, along with reliving my preschool anxiety, and mentally fighting the temptation to throw away the Easter eggs, candy and toys, I felt exhausted.
I’m grateful for the few extra minutes that I have before I need to get out of bed, so I grab my phone and put the ear buds in my ears. I log into the Chopra Center Meditation to accompany Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s meditation in Day 5 of “ Shedding the Weight: Mind, Body and Spirit.” Deepak recites the centering thought and mantra, I am the source of my own inner healing, So Hum.
“Mama, mama, mama.” I hear over Deepak’s voice.
She’s awake, and the 5th day of meditation will need to wait until tonight.
“Mama, can I please go to work with you today? Please. Please. I really want to be with you all day.” She asserts as she’s opening her eyes.
“Kennedy, I have two meetings today which means you need to stay in my office quietly, and you’ll need to follow the rules: keep your shoes on, no running and no yelling” I explain.
“I will, I promise I will.” She begs.
“OK, I’d love to have you with me today at my office.” I say with a genuine feeling and smile.
“YAY, you’re the best mom ever.” She says, also smiling.
I seriously doubt that I’m the best mom ever; I just want to connect with her and support her feeling of being loved and belonging to our family.
As we drive up to my office, Kennedy says “Mom, I wasn’t paying attention in class, and I checked every box on my work plan. I can’t do eleven works in one day, but now I don’t have to. And tomorrow I only have four works planned.”
I am silenced. It seems that her strong feelings for wanting to be with me all day were like a costume being worn by her other feelings of wanting to avoid her work plan in class.
“It’s called a hustle sweetheart.” - Judy Hopps, Zootopia.