Smile for MeMarch 17, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Posted in Lollipop | 15 Comments
Lollipop has a new line.
“Smile for me, Mommy.”
At first, I didn’t give it much thought. In fact, I gave her the eye. Because when was she saying it? When I asked her to please stop chasing the cat. Or spitting out her milk. Or spitting on her brother. For the 32nd time.
And was I going to smile in that situation? Uh-uh. I drink the SuperNanny Kool-Aid, yes, I do. And smiling in the middle of disciplining is a big, fat no-no. Nothing says “I’m not serious” like a goofy grin or a stifled chuckle. Instead: the eye.
The Eyes Have It
Then I began to notice something. Lollipop would sidle up to me at other times. At ordinary moments. Like when I stirred the pasta. Or sorted through the mail. Or pushed her in the swing. And say the same thing: “Smile for me, Mommy.” So I would. A sort-of half-smile that certainly didn’t reach my eyes, or my heart.
Earlier this week, I was coming down the stairs, having just scolded her for trying on 10 pairs of shoes (the star sandals! the sparkly heels! the frog boots!) instead of settling in for her nap. I walked past the big, silver mirror in the dining room. I saw someone. Her eyebrows were furrowed, her lips down-turned, her face pinched. It was me. And I looked tired, worn out, unhappy.
Smile for me, Mommy. In my head I heard those little words. And I knew they meant so much more than I had first assumed.
The Extraordinary Ordinary
Am I so worn down by the day-to-day routine of mothering that I can’t bother with a smile? And what is a smile, really? It’s an outer manifestation of inner contentment, peace, joy. Do I not have that?
This is where I could blame everything on my very pregnant body and my very swollen feet everything. This is where I could say, just give me a few weeks. But in a few weeks? I’ll have a newborn. I’ll be that much more tired. And the routine I know like the back of my hand will be utter chaos as we figure out how to be five, instead of four.
Just give me a few weeks. No, that won’t cut it.
As I looked at my reflection last week, I practiced. Smiling. Until my eyes crinkled, my cheeks flushed a little, my heart beat just the tiniest bit faster. It was hard. It felt forced. But I did it. And I resolved to do it more often, to smile just for the sake of smiling. To smile in the ordinary moments, the day-to-day ones that so often seem rote, routine.
Because those are the ones we miss. The ones we didn’t stop to enjoy. The ones we can’t get back.
This I know: I am happy. I have a strong marriage, healthy children, stability, security. I love and am loved in abundance. But how can I show it? How can I feel it? Most important: How can I let my daughter see it?
So that she doesn’t need to say to me anymore, “Smile for me, Mommy.” Because I will be.