This week was a very big week for my not-s0-little girl.
She lost her first tooth.
She got to spot the tooth fairy scaling our bannister and was able to follow the trail of fairydust that she had left behind in our backyard.
(I had absolutely nothing to do with the glittery confetti that was spread across the pathway in our backyard…)
This morning, two days after the toothfairy visited her, my daughter announced that she had a plan for the $6 that had been left under her pillow: she wants to donate the money to people in Haiti who were affected by Hurricane Matthew.
I am so proud of this human.
So, she had many highs this week, but one moment topped them all.
On Thursday afternoon I received an email from my daughter’s first grade teacher with the subject line reading, “This WILL make your day.”
That, in itself, is a wonderful line of text to receive. We are so very blessed that my daughter has the most incredible, empathic, compassionate, warm, enthusiastic teacher; one who has welcomed her into a big new school, that, at times, felt so new and foreign, with open arms and a most lovely heart. In her class, and from her teacher, my daughter now feels as though she has a new family, a principle that is instilled in all of the children; she says that they are all pieces of a big puzzle, each important individually but integral to the whole. The values that she is learning are invaluable. I call her teacher “the best” and I mean it.
So, when I saw that her teacher had emailed me during the busy work day, I was excited and eager to read the message.
The email was long, effusive and genuine.
“This is something I had to share with you, given it was one of those moments that left me speechless and with chills…”
Her teacher read a book to the class called The Lion Inside written by Rachel Bright and illustrated by Jim Field. It teaches, as the email explained to me (I have not yet had the privilege of reading the book myself), that everyone has both a “mouse” and a “lion” inside at all times; the moral of the story instills confidence in children, as it illustrates that we all have many feelings all at once, and that that is OK; that we all feel nervous sometimes and bold at others.
After they finished reading the book, the class had a discussion about it’s theme and just as they were preparing to transition to their next activity, my little girl raised her hand.
“Fear is just another reason to try harder,” she said.
And her class clapped for her, her teacher beaming with pride.
When I read this email, I cried. First, I was so touched by her teacher’s kindness and the support that he gives to her and to our family.
But more than anything else I was astounded by my daughter’s wisdom.
Fear is just another reason to try harder.
My daughter (and her teacher) gave me permission to share this story on here, and so I feel as though I can share this as well:
My daughter has fears. She comes by this honestly.
Some of her fears are from hard life experience (like having a fear of serious illness after having lost a close family member this year) and some are from small moments that impacted her (like when seagulls attacked her food at the beach when she was two, so now she avoids all flying creatures). I often feel guilty that she has the burden of anxiety, as she must have been impacted by our “hard story” over the past few years since her brother was born.
In my thank you note back to her teacher, I wrote that my daughter is an old soul.
I have posted so many stories on here about the things that she has said and done that have brought me to my knees.
Like the time that she explained to me that I am a tree. And how she holds me in her little arms when she perceives that I am down, to give me “extra love”.
Or how earlier this week, when her brother went in for his first teeth cleaning and felt scared, she insisted on standing by his side, not leaving him for a single moment.
Or, how just now, just this very minute, she came into my room to get me and asked me what was taking me so long (as she is anxious for us to bake pumpkin muffins together).
“I am writing my blog post about you,” I told her. “I want to get it right.”
“You always want to get things right, mama,” she said. “And it’s OK to be wrong, sometimes. It’s just important to try your best. Mistakes can actually be good. Mistakes can teach you.”
(I could not make this up if I tried. And for the record, I think that this most recent kernel of wisdom is also from her fabulous teacher. #bestteacher)
Every single day (every. single. day.) she reminds me of her immense capacity for empathy and love.
There are so many times in my life when, as much as I hate to admit this, my fears rule me. Fear is prohibitive for many, and I am often among that group.
I get nervous to advocate for myself, or to write about a controversial topic or to get on an airplane.
To share my story, because I am scared that I will be judged; that the stigma of mental health issues will overshadow all that is good about me and I will be branded with a scarlet “S” for “sufferer” and then it will all be over for me.
But my daughter reminded me this week that I cannot continue to let fear get in my way. Never not ever.
Fear is just another reason to try harder.
So, if someone is going to judge me for having suffered from postpartum depression, I will just have to prove to them that I am many things: I am a mother, a family member, a writer, an advocate, a singer, a dance-partier, a friend, a #teamMEAMate, a lover, a decorator, a reader, a learner, a songwriter, a mouse, a lion and, sometimes, the toothfairy.
So, from now on, we can let it scare us, but we will not let it stop us. And I have my daughter’s words to remind me of that every day.
I will keep on working hard. I will keep on hugging my daughter and getting that extra love. And I will keep on sharing who I am in an effort to help others.
I will face my fears, because my daughter showed me that fear is something to run towards and not away from.
Do you hear that?
That’s me roaring.
And, if you’re up for it, roar along with me. Because I will try if you will.