Little Miss Home Now

September 30, 2010

As I write this, my husband has taken the girls with him to watch Awesome Stepkid R. play a high school tennis match. As he left, he said, “enjoy your time home.”

Yes, my hubs rocks; not just because he gives me a break on a weekend morning, but also because he knows what it means to me to be left alone in my own house. There’s nothing I love like home.

I think, in a former life, I must have been a gopher or a mole or some other burrow-dwelling creature. A creature that likes to tuck in close and startles at noise and hard light.   If I could, I’d never leave my house.  That’s perhaps an exaggeration, but only a slight one.  I’m a homebody, down to the last drop.

Apparently, I’ve always been wired this way. Mama tells stories of how, as a child, I’d needle her to death if she took me on an errand with her (which she had to do quite often, because my father travelled all the time). 10 minutes into an errand, I’d start pestering her. “Home now?” I’d ask, eyes hopeful.

“Home now? Home now, Mama?” I’d chant as she pushed a heavy cart through the grocery store, gritting her teeth. God forbid she had to run two errands, because after the first one, I became more aggressive with my campaign. “Home now, Mama,” I’d say, eyes dark and lower lip threatening to surface. “Home. Now.”

I was the kid who always wanted neighborhood kids to play at my house, who turned down offers for sleepovers and playdates, seeking the comfort of my own nest.

My sister was the complete opposite; the minute school was out or the weekend started, her butt was high-tailing it out our front door, faster than you could snap your fingers. Home was where the sharp eyes and the rules were, and she wanted neither.  I rather liked the rules; they made me feel safe–at least at home, I knew the score.

In high school, when most of my peers were hanging out at the Tenneco station on Saturday nights, looking for a party, I was home with a hot bath and a book. So rarely did I go out on the weekends that pretty soon my friends knew not to even ask.

In college, when one of the girls on our floor dropped by, asking if we wanted to crash a party, my roommate laughed and said, “Don’t bother asking Dana. She’s anti-social.”  A bit cutting, perhaps, but not far off the mark.

My husband and I met at a party. This is a miracle in itself. Funny thing is, the only reason I was at that party was because a friend had shamed me into going; I hadn’t been to a social event in months.  “You’re starting to stink in there,” she said to me.  “Get out, for chrissakes!” So I did. It was a happy accident, but the irony doesn’t escape me.

My husband is more social than I am, but he was painfully shy until he hit college, so he understands, at least a bit, where I’m coming from. Both of us were the kids home on the weekends, noses buried in books.

Which is why we are convinced that Miss D. is from Mars. Miss D. is social butterfly, more-the-merrier, hot-dang y’all, let’s go! In D’s opinion, loud and big and pulsing with activity is awesome! Miss D.’s first grade teacher told me, “D.’s greatest disappointment is that she can’t be friends with the entire world population.”

The first day of pre-Kindergarten, I stood, tearily waving, as Miss D. ran through that open door without a single glance back. There was stuff to do, people to see, places to go! Mom–step back, wouldja? I was broken-hearted and wildly proud at the same time.

Miss M. is another story. We tried pre-school last year, two days a week. She howled, she pouted, she gripped my leg, she refused to get dressed, she fought the entire way into the carseat, she gripped the door handle of the car as I tried to wrestle her out, she sat on the floor at the school entrance, refusing to walk to her classroom. She wept bitterly as I left, face crumpled at my betrayal.

Mama laughed when I told her. “Fate comes back to bite you,” she said. Because for years, my little voice would implore her, “Please Mama, please. Don’t make me go to school.”  And she always said it felt like the twist of a knife, that plea.

“She’ll get over it,” Miss M.’s teacher assured me. “She cries for a while, and a few times during the day, but she’ll adjust.”

After a full month of pre-school, Miss M. was still flying off the handle, performing the same exhausting routine every Tuesday and Thursday morning.  Mutiny and heartbreak. Desperation and tears.

I chose to pull her out of preschool. I didn’t have the heart for the bi-weekly battle.  After all, M. still had another full year before Kindergarten; I figured we’d try again in the fall.

This year, we chose a different school. A school that offered a 3-hour afternoon program, lots of choice and plenty of empathy for reluctant/fearful participants.  The best part? M. had a  neighbor in her class; a familiar face–a touchstone. This time, there were no tears or battles or drama. Just a long hug, a kiss and a promise to see her soon.

The first week went by without incident; hubs and I were elated and smug with our decision not to push our daughter. “She just wasn’t ready last year,” I said. “This is a complete change–it’s just a better fit all around,” he agreed.

The second week went well also, although she gave me the fat lip one morning when I mentioned that it was a school day. “I want to stay home with you,” she said. “It’s almost the weekend,”  I assured her, and that was the end of it.

This past week, week three, has been met with a bit more resistance, but still no tears or outright refusals. On Thursday, as we were in the car, en route to class, Miss M. piped up from the back seat, ” Hey, Mommy, guess what my favorite thing is about school?”

“What, baby?” I said absentmindedly, fiddling with the air conditioning.

“Waiting for you to come pick me up.”

Oh,  Miss M.  My Little Miss Home Now. My heart understands.  Don’t you know that it’s my favorite thing about it, too?

A Birthday Wish for Miss M.:

Miss M., on Monday you will be one year older, and your mama will probably be a wreck. I know Miss D. gets the lion’s share of press on this blog; she’s incomparable when it comes to entertainment value. But don’t ever, not for a second, think she has more space in my heart.  You are my baby, my cuddle bug, the girl with the easy nature and a smile at-the-ready.  Your sister is thunder; you are the soft rain on the roof…the kind that makes me smile and pull the covers tight, happy to be just where I am.

I hope, every day, you know how much light you bring to my life. Happy Birthday, Bella-fair. You are my joy, my sunny corner, my always littlest girl.

{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

Natalie October 1, 2010 at 5:26 pm

It’s kinda nice having at least one kid you can “get” when the other is a total mystery, huh?

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Katybeth October 1, 2010 at 6:10 pm

When my son was little and melted down about school–he loved our house of bricks—so much—he looked at me at drop off one morning and said “Mama, I miss you so much, I even miss you when I blink. Ok.
Happy Birthday to Miss M ♥- I think, one of the best kept parenting secrets is not how fast time passes but how it just gets better and better as time goes on!!

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TKW October 4, 2010 at 7:26 pm

“I miss you even when I blink!?!?” Dear God, how did you ever send that child to school ever again? That’s a spin-doctor mastermind, you’ve got there. I think he would reduce me to tears and dust. That boy loves his mama.

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Paula October 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm

What a beautiful way you have recognized the special characteristics of each child! But I find it hard to believe you are/were shy. Really?? I find myself wanting to stay home the older I get. Not sure why.

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Kelly October 1, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Time at home alone is always at the top of my please-give-me list.

Happy birthday to your sweet little one. Soft rain on the roof, indeed.

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Leslie October 1, 2010 at 8:34 pm

I love the way you tell stories of your youth and young’uns (the apple and the tree and all that) – moving, matter-of-fact, and never maudlin, as usual. We’re starting to shop for preschools for my son, for next year, and alreadyI fear I won’t be able to handle the drop-off if his face crumples. (He handled it okay when my face crumpled a couple weeks ago, when I picked him up at his grandmother’s after work and he said, “Thanks for coming home, Mom.” Oh, holy.)
Happy birthday to both of you!

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Laci J October 1, 2010 at 8:58 pm

I love these entries, even though they make me blubber like the softy I try to hide from everyone.

Happy Birthday, Miss M!

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Privilege of Parenting October 1, 2010 at 10:27 pm

I so relate to almost all of this (but for having both kids shy introverts). Sometimes I wonder how it would be if those of us who liked to stay home with a book were better able to run into each other (sometimes I think maybe that’s the silver lining of this all-too-often loud and manic “social network”)… I’m all for some sort of let’s not and say we did social network, or some sort of introverted social connecting where we can be real and have others be real back with us… at least a bit more of the time.

Anyway, sending soft wishes on the roof birthday cheer.

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Chiara October 2, 2010 at 1:58 am

What a wonderful story, and so beautifully written!

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The Curious Cat October 2, 2010 at 5:10 am

Loved this post…so sweet…made me cry! I never wanted to go to school either…always wanted to be home with my mum xxx

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Emily Z October 2, 2010 at 5:41 pm

I am a lot like you. For example. I have been out with the girlfriends all day on another weekend excursion and therefore not cooking dinner. The husband went out to go get some food and wanted me to come with him. I wanted to stay home. I like being home. I like cuddling on the couch with the dogs, or baking, or tinkering with another project. I don’t like going on errands if I really don’t have to. So yeah, I totally feel you. :) Very sweet message to your little girl!

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Dawn October 3, 2010 at 8:32 am

Oh I get that “want to be at home on my own” thing. So get it. Today on Sunday Morning, the TV show, they did a piece with Phillip Roth the author. He lives on several acres by himself. He likes the solitude. I was envious. Having time at home is such a luxury! I hope you enjoyed yours.

And your children? Priceless. Yes it’s embarrassing to have tears drip off your chin as you’re reading the words of someone you’ve never met. But worth it.

Thanks for sharing.

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Rudri October 3, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Here’s wishing your little one lots of love, laughter and cupcakes for her birthday. I love how she loves her Mommy and wants to be with her all of the time. Reminds me of my own daughter… very sweet and sentimental post.

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ck October 4, 2010 at 11:24 am

So sweet. And so beautifully written.

(I’m really glad we’re friends, TKW. Home-bodied, salty-foods-for-breakfast-eatin’, book-lovin’ kindred spirits. )

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Naptimewriting October 11, 2010 at 10:39 pm

I second the motion. Or lack of motion. With spaghetti and Coke for breakfast and a novel at naptime.

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~Laura October 4, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Oh, I knew there were lots of reasons I liked you! We are cut from the same cloth my friend. Glad to hear preschool is going well for you guys this year. We started off well, but now I’m getting tears and I just want to stay with you mommy because I miss you sooo much! It’s heartbreaking. What a lovely tribute to Miss M. I’m sure she’ll love having these memories from you.

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TKW October 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Good luck, kid. I think you are *done* for. One look from that gorgeous child of yours, and I’d be toast.

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Velva October 4, 2010 at 4:26 pm

You writing makes me smile. I absolutely love the way you choose to use your words-it’s beautiful. More importantly, it’s real. Thanks for sharing.

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TKW October 4, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Thank you, wonderful, caring, beautiful readers, for your outpouring of love and understanding. It was so heartening for me to hear that many of you love to grab a blanket and hunker down where the home fire burns…you make me feel less of a freak.

I’m so grateful for all of you.

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Contemporary Troubadour October 4, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I’m coming late to the love-fest (for too many reasons) but I still wanted to say how sweet this post is. Miss M. is one lucky little girl. And the love for home both of you have is mine too. Happy birthday to your always littlest today :)

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GEW October 6, 2010 at 1:41 pm

When I was in college, I called my mom one night to tell her that I didn’t think I was “doing it right.” College that is. I was somewhat concerned about the fact that as everyone else got all dolled up to go out on a Friday night, I couldn’t wait to have my dorm room–and just about the whole dorm floor–to myself. I would dance around to my own music (AC/DC dontcha know), and then I would read, read, read (Jackie Collings, dontcha know). While I now only occasionally listen to AC/DC (even though I still think they rock), and I never read Jackie Collins (b/c I think her writing sucks), I still love to have some time to myself in my own space. Hope you had a great morning home alone!

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Diana October 9, 2010 at 11:48 am

Ms.Kitchwitch!
landed on ur blog thru’ jen’s URB! u take us back in time (literally) with ur life stories.. its just awesome to read.! belated bday wishes to ur little one!

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TKW October 9, 2010 at 2:27 pm

GEW: I wish we’d attended the same university. We could have been moles together…literature-loving moles.

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subwow October 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I saw the post when it was published but failed to come and wish her a happy birthday in time. I hope you had a great time celebrating. :-) And it is wonderful that you have 2 polar opposites to experience motherhood with. :-) I wonder whether you and your mom look at the two of them and remember the good old days when you and your sister were growing up? :-)

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