I MISS MYA!!
Bells cried from her bed the other night.
Earlier that day, on our car ride home Bells sat and listed all her friends that have moved on to the OTHER room at her daycare.
I actually need to figure out more about this other room. I know it exists; it’s right on the other wing of the building but every September kids disappear from Bella’s room and then reappear in the summer. I’m pretty sure this other room is called school.
Thing is, I don’t know why I don’t know about it or how Bella didn’t end up in the OTHER room. It’s probably a similar situation to that one year at Christmastime when I found out Bells had a holiday concert coming up:
There’s a concert?, I asked with great excitement because I have liiiived for this. The school programs, the choir concerts, the sports activities. I have dreamt and had visions of sitting in the bleachers in my cute seasonal coat with a coffee in hand, chatting with the other parents their cute coats and coffee cups! It all makes me so excited. And here I was, informed there was a concert. It was happening. My dream was coming true. (A solid YESS! with a fist pump.)
Yup, the receptionist confirmed. There’s one every year. With all the rooms.
Every year? I asked with a tilted head. Like there was one last year too? I said with my finger making a gesture as if to acknowledge “last year;” my face bummed. (you guys, I missed it! There was one of my most dreamt of mommy-moments and I had one hundred percent completely, without fail, missed it!! Big bummer. Like HUGE.)
Yup, the receptionist said re-confirming, Every year.
Ah. I see. Well we TOTALLY missed that one. (head hung in shame!)
I was probably buried back home in puke from Bella’s rare stomachy thing, running on 15 minutes of sleep and a bit forgetful to check her parent folder. And as a result, we had missed her holiday concert. But not this year. This year we nailed it. Bella was there, in a red dress and green antlers and all. She rocked it out to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and then sang her little heart out to Let It Go (see above pic) and it almost made up for that concert we missed entirely and altogether.
But just as we missed the concert, I also missed the memo about their being an OTHER classroom. And Bella is sad. She misses her friends. Seven of them to be exact. She has seven friends who have gone to the other side. She told me so. She sat in the back and listed ‘em all out: Mya, Caleb, Bridgie… (she’d pause to think)… Alina, Asher, Lucy and some other kid but I forgot his name.
She would list each name, using her fingers as tally marks to account for her long lost friends. It was almost as if each time she said their name and put a finger out, it was a way to remember them. A slight, sacred pause. After she’d list them all out, she’d go back and list them again. With each time, I could see that this practice felt good for Bella. A soothing, calming thing for her little-big heart. And it was in this moment that I realized that at such a young age we try to get a grasp and a handle on grief. This sacred act of listing names was much more than a little girl just naming names -- she was grieving. She was acknowledging the loss by identifying each person who no longer was in her room and she was celebrating them and the love she had for them with each little pause. It made me see just how early we try to express loss. And I'm a firm believer that grief is best done with an element of creativity. We each have to find our ways to express it, get a hold of it. As I watched my little girl repeat and repeat the names, I could see how this was a way for her to grieve, a form of control in a moment where the loss felt like too much. To just feel the loss was too much but to name it, to give space for it, to put it outside of her instead of inside --- it just made it all a little more tangible and thus, bearable.
Later than evening as she laid in bed crying because she missed Mya, I found myself wanting to stifle it. I found myself feeling and thinking: okay sweetie, I’m so sorry. Like really, I am. But seriously it’s bedtime.
Until something in me realized that my daughter is more fully alive than I am.
My daughter is what researcher, Brene Brown says, is whole hearted. (if you haven’t picked up a Brene Brown book or two or three – go do that now, yes? She is brilliant.)
But here I was trying to push aside feelings that I didn’t want Bella to have or moreover, that I wanted to rush Bella through her feelings out of convenience for her bedtime clock.
Shame on me, no? This little girl was and does life with so much more honesty than me most days. And I think maybe that’s a little bit what Jesus meant when he said to have faith like a child. I mean sure, kiddos tend to believe in Santa Claus and fairy dust and that if you pray for snow God will open up the heavens and drop a white winter wonderland on our command the minute we pray for it. They do. They believe so easily. Almost gullably, right? I’m not sure if that’s beautiful or weird. I’m still working through what it means to be an adult. Being a kid was so easy. And honest. Being an adult, well it takes so much courage to be honest.
And what I do know, after seeing through my daughter’s eyes, is that life has a lot to be experienced. When Bella is angry, she says so. When she is sad, you know it. When she is thrilled to the hilt, the whole room is blessed by the kid’s hilariously loud and boisterous laugh. All of it. She doesn’t hide any of it. I mean sure, she needs to learn not to hit when she’s mad or how to find a special place to cry when she needs time to be with herself and her heart (instead of having a meltdown at the table that interferes with everyone else who is trying to eat.) There is a proper way to express and experience feelings, sure. Bella’s classroom has a little fort-like thing. In it is a cozy little bean-bag. Anytime one of the kids is having a hard time, the teacher offers them that fort for time and space. When they have had enough time – for whatever they need – to come down from their anger, to be sad over a fight with a friend, or if maybe they just don’t feel ready to be around all their other friends quite yet in the morning – this is their space. This is there safe, sacred space. And when they’ve had proper time with their precious little heart, when they are ready, they come out to face the beautiful hard world again.
You know, for years I’ve done a pretty horrible job with my own feelings. I thought that to have a life led by faith and not feelings meant that I didn’t have feelings at all.
My daughter is teaching me elsewise.
I came that they might have life…. And have it to the fullest.
That’s what Jesus said.
Brene Brown calls it whole-hearted living.
Jesus called it full.
I think they both meant the same thing. They meant something like: ALL OF IT.
To be alive, to live, to have life is to be the kind of people that embraces our whole selves; our whole story and our whole life. Not to push any feeling or thought or desire or longing or hurt or joy or good or sorrow under a rug and into the dark, but to live fully exposed and fully in the light.
Hide it under a bushel? NO! IMMA LET IT SHINE.
That’s what one of those Jesus songs taught me when I was a kid. And it's truth rings truer ever more the older I get.
May we continuously seek out creative and beautiful ways to give ourselves endless permission to have the grace and the space to be all of it. All of our beautiful, hard selves.
Gawd, Bella. Here I thought I was placed in this world to teach you. Turns out, you teach me more-er.