Friday night I sat at dinner alone with Craig after we had scoured several home improvement stores for the paint and flooring necessary to complete our living room and upstairs areas damaged by Natalie. And as we discussed the week and all our stuff coming up in the next month, I teared up.
I felt like a simply awful mother.
I felt disconnected from my child, my husband and even my four legged furries. For the past few weeks due to school and volleyball starting and then combined with the colossal home reconstruction we're dealing with, I've been floating in and out of the house. Mornings are spent with me taking a shower and getting ready for work while Natalie plays with her toys and reads around me. The evenings are filled with hurried dinners, rushed and stressful playtime which is shortly followed by bedtime with Daddy while I unwind in the bedroom.
With tears threatening to overflow, I looked at Craig and told him that I was terrified of falling into the same trap as my mother.
My mother was the beloved youth minister at our church for ten years while I was growing up. My teenage existence was greatly influenced by Catholic youth conferences, Wednesday night catechism classes and lots of community service projects. I could easily look around and see the GOOD works that my mother was doing with my peers. They all loved her....but more importantly they showed her respect. She was kind, compassionate, funny and intelligent - the perfect mix for a great youth minister.
Except if you're her daughter.
In order to be so incredibly awesome at her job, ministering to the youth of our extremely large parish required a lot of hours spent outside the home on the weekend and evenings. Despite my teenage angst and the good amount of pushing away I did from my parents, I desperately wanted my mom at home with me and my dad.
I guess I felt that since she spent so much time ministering to other kids.....she must love them (or at least like them) more than me.
So as I sat there in the booth at Cotton Patch Cafe, I looked into Craig's blue eyes and whispered "I spend more time with my athletes than I do with Natalie." I was so ashamed that I had shirked on my parenting duties........last week she got my leftover energy, my frustration and my exhaustion. I was fearful that she would grow up resenting me for focusing on my athletes during the season, just as I had with my mother and the youth ministry kids.
I don't want Natalie to ever doubt how much I love her and the important role she serves in my life.
Craig looked at me sorrowfully. His daddy was a high school basketball coach. He understood.
So Saturday morning rolled in with cooler temperatures, a bright sun and a fun birthday party at a local amusement park. As we rolled into the park I breathed deeper than I had in a week. This was exactly what we needed. A few hours as a family devoid of any distractions or other obligations. Just the three of us running around a park and spending time celebrating two of her favorite friends.
As we drove home from the party and Natalie fell asleep in her carseat, I smiled to myself. I took a deep breath and sighed. She isn't going to remember Momma not being there during volleyball season but she will look at the pictures and see what a great time the three of us had on a beautiful Saturday morning in September.