Dear Brittain and Coleman,
Because I’m the one who has painstakingly written on this blog for the last 6 years, most of what I write about is my personal experience as a mom to the two of you. But it’s time that you also know what a great dad you have even though he’s not the one who makes himself known here.
I often discuss the joys and pains of being a mom, but it goes without saying that your Daddy has also had his share of these emotions since you were born, Brittain. Moms and Dads experience different pressures. In our family, Daddy shoulders the burden of making sure his family is taken care of. He has the pressure of making sure there’s a home for you to live in, food on the table, and enough money left over for you to experience the “extras” in life.
With Daddy’s new job I have had several days where I’ve laughed picturing him upstairs “working” as the 3 of us are downstairs. I’m trying to get dinner ready; Coleman, you’re toddling around crying because you’re hungry or you just want someone to hold you; and you, Brittain needing attention that I can’t give you at the moment. I picture him upstairs, listening to the chaos that’s going on below him with his feet propped up on his desk, mellowing out to some Dave Matthews Band, waiting for a moment of silence before appearing downstairs just in time to put you in bed. Of course I know this isn’t what he’s actually doing…I don’t think.
There are lots of days I think both of us are just trying to put one foot in front of the other. I get caught up in all I have to do, a lot of which I can’t keep up with, and I often times forget that Daddy is feeling the same way. It’s all about the balance, and while neither of us have really figured it out yet, I wholeheartedly believe that we’re both trying. Daddy sacrifices for us each and every day he leaves for work. Because of his sacrifice I am given the opportunity to be with you and experience the real joy that comes from being a parent. I work just enough to help out a little, but my “real” job is here at home and I’m awarded that because your Daddy makes sure the rest is covered.
It’s been in the past few years that I’ve realized even more the impact that a parent has on a child. I’ve realized how important it is to set a good example. You look up to us. We set the standard. And hopefully you will think we’ve shown enough character that you’ll perhaps want to pattern your lives after us. Daddy’s decision to work the hardest that he can for us is what has provided us the life that we have.
When you’re grown up and reading this, I hope you’ll take a moment to thank Daddy. On this Father’s Day and every other day he deserves to know how much he’s appreciated and how much you love him.
Daddy’s Father’s Day gift:
As the last day of school approached, there was much talk of the Kindergarten graduation program. Graduation? Really? I kinda thought it was a little overkill until I found out they also wore CAPS AND GOWNS! Seriously? Now it was MAJOR overkill. But I went along with it. I got a little more into it when a neighbor whose son is in Brittain’s class asked if I would be interested in her taking graduation pictures of Brittain. She’s a great photographer and owned a few caps and gowns. I have to admit that she looks pretty cute:
But when graduation day came I was over it and I was just ready to be done with the whole event. Not that I had to do anything, but coordinating who of the family was going to come and who was going to go early enough to save seats and how early I could get there with Coleman without a major meltdown occuring in the middle of the program was enough for me. I don’t think I’ve ever been more ready for summer.
When I arrived I sat in my seat rolling my eyes to myself looking at all the people around me excited about their 5 year old graduating. I mean, it’s Kindergarten, people. We’ve got a looooong way to go before we have anything to celebrate. But I swallowed my words almost immediately when the processional began. If you don’t tear up at a bunch of 5 year olds in caps and gowns singing “One Small Voice” as they walk up on stage, then you are heartless. I suddenly became one with every last person in that cafeteria because I was merely seconds away from standing up and yelling as I sobbed, “Our babies are graduating. Our babies are all grown up.” Thankfully, my attention was diverted when Coleman threw a fruit snack on the floor and then immediately picked it up and put it in his mouth.
I’m hoping that this kindergarten graduation sort of prepared me for future year’s Honors Days. Beyond the sweet program that the children put on, there were awards given out. Awards. It’s that moment when you’re sitting there looking around you trying to think of whose kid is smart and if your own kid even has a chance. It’s that moment when you think, “Damn it. I KNEW I should have neglected my other child so I could force my other one to learn FASTER.” It’s not that you really care about the award. It’s that YOU know that YOUR child is special. You just want everyone else to know it, too.
Let me interject something important here and say that when Brittain started Kindergarten, Dan and I had several conversations about our hopes for her. While it’s rare that we agree on something wholeheartedly, we were in agreement that the only thing we cared about for Brittain was that she enjoy school. I know that’s not the same goal everyone has for their child, but for Brittain, that’s what we wanted. We already knew that Brittain’s going to do her best. She’s a people pleaser. She’s not a child that needs to be pushed academically. She’s going to do her best because she knows that’s what she’s supposed to do and she won’t disappoint. What we wanted for her was that she want to keep going back for more.
Ok, so now back to the awards. Because everything I just said meant absolutely nothing at that particular moment. It went a little something like this. Here are the awards given followed by my innermost thoughts.
Student Council Recognition – nope, she’s not on it
Citizenship Awards – This is like best all around, right? She is SO the best all around. She’s encouraging and thoughtful and sweet….ok, nope, she didn’t win.
Attendance Award – Nope. She missed like one freakin’ day. I knew I should have sent her to school with that 102 degree fever.
Young Georgia Author’s Contest – Don’t have a clue what this is.
Literacy Day’s Winners – Where have I BEEN this year?
Top Accelerated Readers – She did good at the end of the year, but she sort of had a slow start. Nope.
Athletic Awards – Hahahahaha. Aw, hellz no.
Music/Computer/Art Awards – Maybe? Maybe? Nope.
At this point I was close to throwing up my hands in disgust and storming out of there as if the biggest injustice had just happened. But I stayed. For Brittain’s sake. And I proceeded to ignore the rest of the program. I completely ignored up to the point where I heard my child’s name and I saw her stand proudly on the stage along with the 2 students from the 2 other Kindergarten classes. I looked around. Confused. The principle is standing up there. THE PRINCIPLE has just announced an award so it’s CLEARLY the most important one! She has just announced an award that MY CHILD won. WHAT THE HELL WAS IT? I looked down at my program and saw it. MOST IMPROVED. Out of her entire class, SHE was the most improved. I beamed with pride for a few short seconds and Dan and I swapped that “that’s our kid” look. But then we looked back at each other again with a look that required no words. Most Improved. This is something we should be proud of, right? I mean, did she start out stupid but improve to the point of pretty good? Did she start out pretty good and improve to really smart?
We’re about halfway through our summer now and I haven’t looked back once and thought about this award because as soon as we left that school that day I was back to just being proud of the wonderful year Brittain had and the fact that she made it through, already looking forward to the 1st grade.
I am still trying to sift through everything that Brittain brought home with her on the last day. Her scrapbook that her teacher put together for each student took me a week or two to go through. On one of the last days that I was looking through it I ran across what I believe was an award Brittain must have received in class that her teacher gave out. It was the “Almond Joy Award” – for always having a smile on your face. Now THIS award I was proud of.
Happy graduation, Brittain. This is only the beginning. Don’t even think about dropping out before the next graduation.
P.S. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t take a single picture in this post. When I started writing about this day I went back to find the pictures to put with it and THERE WERE NONE. This only meant one thing and that’s the fact that I apparently deleted them accidentally. Thank goodness Cindy Stansberry took pictures that day and even got some of Brittain. And thank goodness she DIDN’T delete hers.