Some time ago, we had received an email from the kindergarten teacher about an in-class Mother’s/Father’s day celebration. The kids were putting on a show for them. It had asked if there were other parents/surrogates the kids should honor. I encouraged my partner to read the darn thing a few times to see if he “was available to attend.” That was my only reason of course. It’s not like I had a hidden agendas of knowing where I stand. He never did and soon I gave it up.
One fine day, H2 came up to me and said “BB. I want you to come to our Mother’s day. I have two moms and two dads, so I made a gift for everyone, but I can’t tell you what it is. It’s a surprise.”
My eyes sparkled, an ear-to-ear smile pasted on my face. Let me insert a little note here. Her invitation happened before the darn open house day (which didn’t go so well).
On the actual day of the event, having been through the open house, I felt uneasy. Did she say she had made me something? Shit. Are we going to have another smile through gritted teeth day?
Since the last time the nice in me had gotten hurt, I let the mean me go to the celebration and didn’t stop her snide remarks on the way there. “How long do we have to sit through a bunch of kids singing out of tune?“
A number of parents were there by the time we arrived. The only two seats left were behind her mom. We took our seats, exchanged pleasantries, and applauded as the children took their positions in two rows.
It started with a song for dad. No sooner than the little voices uttered the words daddy, the mean drained out of me. I’ve always had a soft spot for kids, especially girls, who have a close relationship to their dads. For the record, they sang in perfect harmony. After the performance, the teacher played a slideshow of each child’s drawing of his/her father while an audio clip of his/her voice told three reasons for loving dad. H2 had done two, one for her dad and one for bonus dad.
The mom part followed. As she sang, she made eye contact with her mom, then she turned to look me in the eyes. It felt uncomfortable. I wasn’t ready to open to her offering. My resistance had in part to do with her mom sitting just in front of me, one seat over. Shouldn’t H2 be looking at her only? I squirmed in my seat, feeling honored, yet unqualified.
Then came the slideshow. She had drawn a picture of both of us, including accurate skin tone. Mine was brown. Living in the dessert makes us olive skins turn brown. The audio said: “I love Bahar because she’s brave, she hugs me, and she kisses me.” I melted. Brave is one of my favorite adjectives. It’s one I want the girls to be. It’s one I strive to be. “Brave,” she said, “because you have done a lot of brave things.” Here, the children typically celebrated the most mundane tasks: hugging, cooking, turning the TV on, and so on. Yet, this little one saw me as the woman I most want to be. Disarmed by her kindness, I allowed the connection finally. I opened to the love she was offering. In that moment all the mean, the resistance, and the polite distance disappeared. She got me.
Finally, H2 proceeded to deliver the gifts she had made. She had worked hard creating several mom-themed art pieces. Most notable was that her mother, the one who spends all her time thinking about her and raising her, and yours truly who bitches about an open house day, got exactly the same things. I winced. It had to have been difficult, probably painful for her mother to share the glory. To her credit, she didn’t express an ounce of it. She held her ground, all smiles.
Let me put away my rants and do a rave for a change. I feel fortunate to be a part of an inclusive family, where children and adults spend more time welcoming each other than pushing each other away.
Wish all moms and mother figures a very happy Mother’s Day.