3 Strikes (But Never More Than 3)
I had the pleasure of witnessing an everyday miracle this week. I just never realized the immense beauty of it until I was the ‘watcher’ rather than the ‘doer’. This craft requires fortitude of a different nature than most are accustomed along with dexterity, creativity and diligence. There is no specializing here; it means juggling multiple medium - consternation, joy, patience, infuriation (at times), laughter, wonder and most of all love – the most powerful force there is.
With painstaking care I watched this artisan chisel each moment into the best outcome possible and I honestly don’t think I have ever witnessed anything this beautiful. Redirecting a busy 3 year old by asking him to look for toys under the bed. Pretending to be a shoe salesman in order to make putting shoes on fun. Hiking Rocky Point in the rain when her blanket and book were calling so that the boys would have “Mountain Climber” bragging rights by dinner. Fishing with a Spiderman rod and reel despite the facts that her lips were blue after treading cold water and catching cannonballs. And there was none of that "put the worms down!" Rather, it was "what are you going to name him?" Laughing from inside pillow forts and choosing not to make an issue of potty training defiance but, instead, letting him set the pace. Insisting that the carrots disappear before anything sweet is offered. Reading aloud to both of them and letting them each read what they could. Saying no and meaning it. Keeping a bin of recyclables nearby because nothing is better than an empty spaghetti box as a chute for Matchbox cars. Asking again and again….”now, was that kind?” so that they understand the difference. And giving 3 strikes when necessary, but never more than 3, because she knows that children make mistakes and will learn from them but that limits are an essential part of learning as well.
And perhaps just as beautiful as all of this was to watch her own mother come behind her folding muddy little sweatpants, making her tea, preparing the boys for bath time, hiding Matchbox cars at night so they would have a hunt each morning and giving her own baby a rest as well. A generational art form called “Mom” making it possible for each human being to realize ourselves fully in whatever it is that we choose to do.
When I returned home I asked my own children (who are now much older than 5 and 3) to share with me one thing I taught them through these many precious moments in our own history because I wanted to be sure I had done it well. Without hesitation they said: to make others a priority and to help them when you can; to have an opinion and hold it dearly but, at the same time, to respect differences with others;to care about the safety and well-being of your family and to defend it without apology; and to love those who are dear to you despite their mistakes (sometimes even because of them) in a way that is unmistakably “Mom”.
So, thinking back on spilled Cheerios, stomach flus, Dr. Seuss, skinned knees, crawling through cardboard tunnels for hours on end, burying goldfish, running behind two wheelers, drying tears over a first break up…the list is truly endless in the 19 years I have been an artisan myself…I now stand silently in awe knowing that I, too, am master of this particular craft.
Thank you, Laura, for reminding me how important it really is.