“Little by little, one travels far.”
[ J. R. R. Tolkien ]
“I’ve learned a lot this year..
I learned that things don’t always turn our the way you planned,
or the way you think they should.
And I’ve learned that there are things that go wrong
that don’t always get fixed or get put back together the way they were before.
I’ve learned that some broken things stay broken,
and I’ve learned that you can get through bad times and keep looking for better ones,
as long as you have people who love you.”
“Even if I’m setting myself up for failure,
I think it’s worth trying to be a mother who delights in who her children are,
in their knock-knock jokes and earnest questions.
A mother who spends less time obsessing about what will happen,
or what has happened,
and more time reveling in what is.
A mother who doesn’t fret over failings and slights,
who realizes her worries and anxieties are just thoughts,
the continuous chattering and judgement of a too busy mind.
A mother who doesn’t worry so much about being bad or good
but just recognizes that she’s both, and neither.
A mother who does her best,
and for whom that is good enough,
in the end,
her best turns out to be,
not bad. ”
“Like everyone else I am what I am: an individual, unique and different, with a lineal history of ancestral promptings and urgings; a history of dreams, desires, and of special experiences, all of which I am the sum total.”
I haven’t talked a lot about my mother lately. In all honesty I have been to busy rejoicing in my new-found freedom.
Today I remembered something I didn’t even know I had forgotten.
I remembered the first time I distinctly realized that I was the girl who was different. I was the girl without a mommy.
The German School system is different from the American School system, so when I tell you I was in pre-school, I mean I was in my last year of kindergarten about to enter first grade and I was only one long summer vacation shy of being seven years old.
(No, I wasn’t held back a year. I’m an October baby and the deadline is in August, so … you do the math. You’re probably better at it than I am. Come to think about it, maybe I was held back a year?!)
Tradition wants that the last day of pre school is celebrated by taking on the little boys and girls on a glorious outing or in my case on a field trip to the local zoo.
The kindergarten teachers sent out information packages to the parents specifying what the children should bring a long on the trip and when to drop them off and where to pick them up.
I know it specified us bringing lunch in a backpack. The reason why I remember this so clearly is because my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Pich (pronounced “Peach” – sweet, huh?!), reminded us to bring our backpacks that our mommies would give us to kinder garden the next day.
The next morning, I didn’t have a backpack. It must have slipped my father’s mind. Somehow I knew it was vital for me to bring a piece of carry-on-luggage. I didn’t have a kiddy backpack, but I had something so much better. I had a pink sparkly care-bear lunchbox in which I stored all my favorite toys. So that morning, backpackless, I grabbed my pink lunch box filled with my most prized possessions (including but not limited to a toy car that changed colours when you rubbed it long enough with your sweaty palms) and walked myself to kindergarten.
I always walked myself to kindergarten. It was just across the park and it was the 80s so my father wasn’t too neglectful that way. A lot of kids walked themselves to kindergarten back then. Well at least preschoolers did.
When I got there not only was I the only kid who arrived without special parental attention, but I was also the only kid without a backpack.
For a moment most mothers just looked at me. Then my Mrs. Pich took be aside and asked if she could see what I brought for the special outing. When she saw that my lunchbox was filled with toys and other inedible items (including but not limited to a dried up marker), she asked me if I could do her a favor. She told me she had stupidly brought her lunch for today and for tomorrow. She wanted to know, if I would leave some of my toys behind and help her carry all the lunch she brought. Also she quickly tied a jump rope to my lunchbox so I didn’t have to hold on it around all day, but could instead carry it like an overgrown purse.
I don’t remember much more from that day. We saw animals, I think. Afterall it was a zoo. But I don’t really need to.
I have photos.
In all of them you see 12 happy children, smiling, laughing and having a great time.
All of them have little kiddy backpacks on their backs. Except for one. The brown-eyed girl with two dark thick braids carrying a glittery pink care-bear lunchbox tied awkwardly to her with a jump rope.
I remember sitting on the jungle gym for the group shot holding my lunchbox.
I distinctly remember feeling different.
But I also remember feeling special: I might not have had a mommy drop me off that morning, but I was the only kid that got to share Mrs. Piches lunch with her.
[ “Soul Killing” – The Ting Tings ]
“[She leaned in close to her frail face:
>Learn this now and learn it well.
Like a compass facing north,
a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman.
You remember that, Mariam.<”