while reading On The Shores Of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’ve read this set as a child, MANY times. But this is my first time reading them as an adult. I’m reading them to anyone who will listen the munchkins.
At lunchtime today, I brought it out and proceeded to dig in. Verbally of course. Well, if you remember this book at all (which I didn’t until AFTER the fact), you’ll remember that within the first few chapters, Jack, the longtime, ever faithful bulldog, dies.
I totally choked. And I mean BAAADDDD! My struggle to hide my tears and act like I was reading about the color of the sky should have won me an Oscar. Okay maybe not. Especially since I had to start eating so that I could mask the warbling and cracking in my voice with mouthfuls of food (I was desperate enough to break my own rule of no talking with your mouth full!). And when that wasn’t enough, I’m ashamed to say, I..
I passed the book on to Poppett to read (after all, I WAS trying to eat!). I admit it, I’m a horrible mother. Not because I asked her to read for me. No, I’m a horrible mother because I know she is like me and I did it anyway. She gets teary eyed over the same things I do. She cries in Charlotte’s Web every time – just like me. And Homeward Bound – just like me. She cried over the passing of our beloved McKee daily – just like me. She cries at my outfits -just like me. Alright so the last one was made up. But you get the point. I KNEW she’d get choked up reading this part of the book and yet I passed the buck anyway.
Shame, shame on me. But I just needed a minute to get my “mommy-mode” turned on. You know, the one you use to talk about the benefits of the bees that are swarming around you and your munchkins – that you are NOT afraid of! The mode you use when you are facing a vegetable at the dinner table that is not your favorite but that you want your munchkins to devour like candy. And the mode you turn on during an earthquake in order to calmly talk your children to safety while hiding your own heart-stopping paniced nightmare of the earth breaking open and swallowing your family and home in one giant bite.
You know it, don’t you!
And she did. She gave me just enough time to get the Mommy-mode turned on, my voice and emotions in check before HER voice was the one warbling and getting quieter and quieter. I couldn’t handle her distress anymore. I knew she was reliving the pain of losing McKee all over again. I knew that as she read about Laura reminiscing about the great times with Jack, that Poppett was thinking of all the times with her own beloved four-footed friend. After all, that’s what had happened to me when I was reading it.
So I took the book back, thanked her for helping me and continued reading the story.
Things I learned from this? Apart from the fact that I’m a cruel mom that is.
I learned to look forward to sharing emotional moments with my daughter. Because as bad as I felt, I did notice a sense of companionship with Poppett in that moment (not that she was aware of it). Like we were sharing the burden of getting this sad chapter read. In a house full of boys, we are (and will be) the only two who “get” each other in this department. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but if you cry in a movie, boys of all ages tease you. It’s a well known fact in this house. It’s nice to know there’s someone else there to share the Kleenex box with.
Now, not all things we cry over will be little things like movies and books. Some things will be gut-wrenching and painful. But I realized today that I look forward to our continued bond as mother and daughter in the coming years.
That I need to treasure and cultivate this relationship daily, in order to keep that bond alive. And that I don’t do it enough.
Next time I promise to ask first before I dump emotional chapters on her. Because if I don’t, I might be picking tissues off the floor by myself in my old age. When reaching the floor might as well be climbing Mt. Everest.
I think a girl movie night is in order… I’m thinking Charlotte’s Web. Lights turned off, lots of popcorn, lots of Kleenex and of course – NO BOYS.