Every once in a while, I start to think I'm getting this whole parenting thing down. Several days will go by, I'll keep a careful hold on my patience, I'll answer all my kids' questions in thoughtful, good-Mommy ways, and I won't respond to their requests with, "Just a minute, honey, and I'll read you that..." (then forget all about the book), or "I'll make that for you tomorrow, Bud..." (then a week goes by and I still haven't made him that zucchini bread). I'll be attentive and loving and involved.
Then we have one crazy day, and it all starts to unravel.
One day last week, I'd been having a good run of super-mommyness (or as super as this lady gets). Atticus has been dealing with some fear issues lately, but we've been handling them, and he's sloooowly been mastering some of those fears. One of the things he's scared of is Somebody. As in, "I fink dere's Somebody downstairs," or "Is Somebody under the bed?"
That morning, before walking up the stairs to get a toy, he checked in with me.
"Is dere Somebody upstairs, Mom?"
"No, Bud, there's nobody upstairs."
There was a pause, then a gentle correction: "Mom, God is everywhere."
When my day starts by being schooled by my two-year-old on theology, I know it's going to be one of those days.
It wasn't really a bad day, per se. I just kept forgetting things, couldn't seem to be anywhere on time, and was useless in providing direction to my children.
That last point became glaringly obvious when Adelaide got off the school bus. As we were walking home, she announced, "Today on the bus, a boy told me there's no such thing as the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, OR Santa Claus! I told him that he was wrong, and he said those things are just regular people dressed up in costumes, and I told him that he was wrong again, and he said that it was all a lie!"
My reply was succinct and well-thought-out. "Gosh."
Adelaide continued to rant for awhile about the nerve of some people, trying to tell her that jolly man that visited her preschool and already knew her name wasn't Santa. Eventually she wound around to the part of the conversation I'd been dreading.
"...and he obviously just doesn't know! What do you think, Mom?"
"Well, um, you know, there was a man named Saint Nicholas who lived a really long time ago, and he gave gifts to people-"
I was floundering, and it was obvious to my daughter, who wasn't having it. "No, Mom, I said what do you think?"
"I-I think..." At this point I was trying desperately to remember how that old newspaper article titled, Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus went. Something about how he absolutely exists, as surely as hope and love... or something? It was really poignant and beautiful, and way better than my lame stammering.
Unfortunately, my brain just doesn't work fast enough, and before long she had forced me to admit that No, neither the Tooth Fairy nor the Easter Bunny exist. At that point, however, I was saved by Caedmon who was tired of this conversation and had been patiently waiting in the stroller to be lifted out. Amid his hollers, I yelled, "You know, Grandma Becky says 'If you don't believe, you don't receive!'" and cowardly ran indoors.
Later I regaled Derek with the entire incident. When I had finished, he asked me, "Do you know what I would have said?"
"I would have asked her if she believed in Santa. Then when she said, 'Yes,' I would have told her that that's all that matters."
Ugh. I'm going to go bake some zucchini bread so I can stop feeling like I suck at my job.