Friday, March 07, 2008

Landing Softly

kindergartener.returns

It was sunny in the living room yesterday afternoon and I was making progress working on some book photography, hoping to accomplish just one more good one before the kids got home. Right on schedule at 3:34 I heard the scuffle for the doorknob and the usual chatter of young voices and the bus breaks releasing and accelerating down the road after dropping off my middle three. But. There were not three. The boys busted through the door just as I got to it and asked me where Isabela was? Where Isabela is!? Why are you asking ME!? Wasn't she on the bus??!!!! They didn't know. Neither of them knew. How could they not have known. Didn't matter. Got both phones out, dialed one to my neighbor, the other to school. Karen picks up. No answer at school. Karen asks her little Josh if he saw Isabela on the bus. Yes. He saw her asleep on the bus. Asleep! Gasp. I slowly transitioned from the stomach-dropping thought of wondering where on earth she was (though my hands were still shaking along with my voice) to the slightly less painful stomach-dropping thought of how scared she will be when she wakes up and realizes that she's missed her stop. I decided to save the sister's-keeper lecture for the boys for later. Then I put in another call to the school bus authority, immediately being put on hold, the other phone trying the school again.....both calls trying to find a way to reach the bus driver (who was a substitute!)....also grilling the boys about who stays on the bus after them, and scanning the school directory for some of those phone numbers....thinking perhaps I could beckon other parents to run out to the bus to tell the driver he has a sleeping girl on there. While I was doing those seven things, I was also hovering on the ridiculous thoughts of what if he doesn't realize she's back there.....
But then I stopped. I stopped when I heard an exasperated little girl bust through the door with tears all over her face and nothing coming out of her mouth but 'mommy. mommy. mommy.'

tripod

Oh what a warm long tearful hug that was. The tragedy in her little face was just so bitter and scared. We had the longest tightest hug on the big chair while I continued to assure her with pats and rubs and squeezes and warm silence and rocking. Such a big girl spilling off my lap but still so tiny in her heart. The world is still so huge. The other side of the neighborhood on the bus without her brothers must have felt like the edge of the earth.

daily.routine

I thought about telling her she should try to stay awake on the bus. I thought about suggesting an earlier bed time. I thought about telling her how her brothers' will be told to take better care of her. None of those thoughts quite seemed to match her needs during these moments. So I just let her know that we would find her anywhere. That the feeling she had of wanting to be home was the same as my feeling of wanting her home. And that nothing will ever take her away from me. Not even a nap. Small smile. And that I'm really glad she woke up because I didn't think she would fit in the lost and found box at school. Finally a giggle. That giggle is life.

todays.art

Just on the other side of that giggle she resiliently hopped up and said "Hey ya wanna see my PE homework? It's a tripod! You have a tripod and I know how to be a tripod now too!" And then I knew that we were finally brought to what must have been the moments she was anticipating while she drifted into slumber on the bus. She must have been excited to come home and show me this. Then she pulled out all her crumbled, folded, curled and imperfect papers from her day, sharing everyone with joyful back to usual words, that slowly erased the residual little crying heaves and returned us both to our sweet afternoon.

landing.softly

And then it was back to the tripods. One after another her little tomato face about to burst. Falling down. Getting back up. Tumbling over. Trying again. But every time a soft place to land. And I knew that I had succeeded. I was her soft place and my hands stopped shaking.

xoAM

80 comments:

  1. What a lovely find-I am sitting with my sleeping daughter in the other room, playing online during her extended nap and I found your blog from the blog of a friend's friend's mother's friend. I used to buy things from the Handmaiden when I lived at Hess my freshman year at UT-I remember when Nicholas was born because you were the first person I had ever seen breastfeed in public! Now I've done quite a bit of public-breastfeeding myself, and my daugher is Elena that we call Eleni often. I will keep up with your blog-your fabrics are lovely!

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  2. Oh, Mi, Gosh! I'm glad you got her back so soon. Your story had me reliving the fact that my daughter did'nt get off the bus after her first day of kindergarten! My first child goes off to school on the bus and then after school, I waited for the bus, no Meghan. The bus (new carrier, no radio to the school)sat by my driveway trying to contact their depot, trying to contact the school (under construction, one phone line, busy for 1/2 hour). I'm trying to call the school over and over only to get a busy signal. Bus driver trying to call the other busses to see if she is on another bus. The poor man installing my dishwasher at the time asked me, "honey you don't look too good, do you have high blood pressure?" After 45 minutes of panic, desperation, fear (from me, the bus driver, and every parent who had come by wondering why the bus was 45 minutes late) They found out that the teacher put the wrong bus number on her little neck tag, and she had stayed on the bus all the way to the depot, thanks god, the driver checked the bus before he got off and found her. The school principals reaction to me when I finally got her on the phone (before we even found out where my daughter was) "Oh, dear, (insert condesending tone here" is this your first child off to school?" Needless to say, my reaction was "IT DOES'NT MATTER IF IT'S MY FIRST OR MY TENTH, YOU LOST MY DAUGHTER!!!" Whew, well another 20 minutes later in pulls a STRANGER's pickup truck with my daughter.....

    Took me years to get over that, I let my son take the bus but followed it to and from school and told the lost child who was now in 2nd grade to make sure her brother was on the bus and if he wasnt to throw a hissy fit to get them to listen to her....

    She is graduating from high school this year, but I re-tell the story and tell new parents, make sure your child knows the bus number and when the teacher says "No dear, you take bus 7, when the child knows that she is to take bus 5, the teacher does'nt always know best"

    I'm breathing, breathing, breathing... ; ) glad she's home..
    P.

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  3. OH PATTY! wow. I might have passed out.

    I was very fortunate our little situation was resolved in about 7 minutes. A long seven minutes.

    xoA

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  4. OK, lump in my throat, tears in my eyes, goose bumps all over. Beautifully written, I just lived those 7 minutes with you. Perfect description of motherhood...

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  5. Holy smokes. What a scare. Though I love your blog for your great fabric/sewing stories, projects and pictures, I really love it more for your mothering stories. It makes me think about my love for being a mother as I feel your sentiments and love in the statements you make. Makes me wish I could have more children, too.

    Glad everyone is safe and sound in your home again.

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  6. AnnaMariea - you write so well. I always feel like I am living the moment with you. I'm so glad she made it home safely, the tears stops and the hands are no longer shaking. g

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  7. oh my goodness - your sweet baby. Yes, the world is still a big place, isn't it? Hold her close. Little love bug and her tripod. Too much. ;)

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  8. Oh my goodness! What a story - I'm so glad it ended well. I love doing those tripods too - of course not as much as I used to! :)
    Happy weekend!

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  9. I aged right along with you reading that post! So glad your littlest angel found her way home to you after the longest 7 minutes in history!

    (You are quite the writer... The suspense was just painful.)

    I'm putting my first on the bus this fall and it will be excrutiating.

    Your blog is a treasure.

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  10. Oh my goodness! Your poor little baby! I remember being in first grade and doing the same exact thing. I woke up, looked out the bus window, realized I had missed my stop, and panicked. My little 7-year-old body just shook from head to toe. It was an awful feeling and I was so relieved when I was finally in the arms of my mama once again. (The bus driver drove me all the way back to school, called my mom, and all was right in the world again.) Whew. It's amazing that 21 years later, it's still very vivid in my mind. I am so happy that Isabella's home with you, safe and sound and full of giggles.

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  11. Oh, phew, what a relief!

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  12. Oh! I'm so glad your little girl is safe.

    Could you PLEASE tell us about that little bag in the first photo? I'm so in love with it.

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  13. So good of you to hold back all of the proposed "next time" solutions while comforting her. That's so hard for me to remember...Glad she's safe and you're sound.

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  14. Aw - little sweetie!

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  15. What a giant scare for you! Glad it all turned out okay : )

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  16. Oh my word. Anna Maria. I cannot imagine how horrifying. (or rather I can but will try very hard NOT to.)

    I am SO very glad that she was all right, and I think you are such a wonderful Mama to have just given her the safe harbor she needed right then. I hope your husband was able to give you that same "soft place" of hugs and quiet and home, for you to bring your heart rate back down again afterwards.

    Now I can't wait to get home to my Sophie and give her a giant hug.

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  17. I LOVEEEEEEEEEE the purse!

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  18. Happy Endings are the best. :) What great comfort your arms and voice must of been to her. I rode the school bus as a kid and the first day back to school was always kinda of freaky. I had a fear of getting on the wrong bus. Plus you were always leary of the bus drivers. They were always kinda sketchy. You had the chin smoker B-52's hair lady, or the ex-service man who ran the bus like the army. But then you had the sweet, sweet grandma type that always new your name.

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  19. Oh no! SO very glad she made it home all safe and sound and mama was there for her just the way she needed.

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  20. The last line of this post is genius. That is definitely what it's all about as a mother - being the soft place.

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  21. I'm so glad that she found you quickly. One of my nephews had a horrible bus experience when he first went to kindergarten. He was supposed to be walked over to the after-school care but instead he got on a bus with other kids.

    He had no idea what to do and finally he got off the bus and stood by the side of the street. Luckily a few of the kids noticed him and took him to their house. Their mom called the school and managed to get it all straightened out but it wasn't a good thing at the time.

    My sister is a single mom and works long hours as a burn unit nurse so she depends on the after-school care people to watch her children. Sad when mistakes happen. But fortunately, as in your case, no harm was done and all was well in the end. :-)

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  22. Anonymous3:02 PM

    You are going to save this exact story and photos into a memory book, right? This is a keepsake your daughter will love from her first day at college to the first day her own daughter goes to college. She will pull it out and feel your love no matter where in the world you are.

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  23. I too had a lost-on-the-bus 4 yo DD. Picture-winds howling, trees falling, power lines down on the roads and me out driving in it to track down my daughter. I found her safe at the transportation shed, playing cards and eating donuts. I cried. She was fine.

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  24. What a story! When I read your story I was just thinking how great it is to have such a bus-drop service like that... Ugh! What a story!

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  25. I'm so glad for your happy ending. Your story immediately brought this quote to mind:

    Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart walking around outside your body.
    Elizabeth Stone

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  26. ooohhhh. you just made me all the more excited to have my sweet baby girl...

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  27. Oh thank goodness. What sweet a ending. :)

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  28. Wow. What beautiful, inate writing. From one mother to another, I'm in tears as I write a Thank You for that lovely, real slice of life.

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  29. Anonymous4:40 PM

    I loved this. You are a good mom and I am inspired to be a little sweeter and more patient to my feisty daughters. Thanks for raising the bar on our parenting!

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  30. I can totally relate to your story. My daughter Jordan, who has Down Syndrome, just turned 5 and has been riding the bus to and from school each day for two years. She usually sleeps on the way home every day. She also does not have the communication skills to tell the driver if they missed her stop. Which has happened at least 8 times.

    The first time this happened, picture me sitting in my sewing room, looking out the window to watch for her bus, hear the bus coming, the bus does not slow down, no breaks being applied and it keeps on going. Then picture me making a mad dash out of the house, running down the sidewalk, arms flailing in the air. The first time this happened the bus driver did not see me. I had to wait 25-30 minutes for the substitute bus driver to realize their mistake. In the meantime, I am frantically trying to get a hold of someone at the school, my husband, the transportation department, anyone to figure out why the bus didn't stop and where was my Jordan?

    Each time this has happened, Jordan has been blissfully unaware of what is going on. I am the one in tears, hand shaking, a nervous wreck!

    Mommy hugs,

    Caroline

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  31. What a sweet story.

    I can still remember (only just) the feeling of terror I had when I got separated very briefly from my mom in a department store a million zillion years ago and how happy I was to be holding Mom's hand again.

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  32. Always a mothers worst fear, that or when the big kids push the little ones out of the way so they miss getting off!! I love the way you handled it, the words you said - it would have been easy to go the other way. You are truly an inspiration in all that you do but mostly in your parenting.

    Thank yoy for allowing into your world.

    Pennie in OZ

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  33. Wow, That made me so thankful that I live just a short walk aroud the block from my little girls school. You handled that wonderfully.

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  34. Oh my goodness you had me seriously choked up. Before my son was born my SIL and I had taken my 3 nephews to the county fair. We were in the carnival section and while we stood outside with the baby the two older boys 7 and 9 went into that fun house type thing (the one that Sandy and Danny in Grease walked through) and the older boy came out with out the younger and we had that same "what do you mean you don't know where he is".... and then panic!. I went into the empty ride and nowhere was my nephew. I went back out and stayed with the baby and the older one while my SIL started yelling the younger one's name louder and louder with tears and panic and that feeling that you're in a nightmare at the carnival with your child that has disappeared. Turns out he had come off the ride and walked right on to the ride with the big chairs that go up and swing in the air and he was balling. The relief that life was going to be just fine in an instant. But oh, I feel for you and the 7 minutes of fear. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait for your new fabric!

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  35. Oh, you made me tear up with that story. The same thing happened to me once when I was in first grade. It's so wonderful of you to realize what it must have felt like for your daughter: "The other side of the neighborhood ... must have felt like the edge of the earth."

    Absolutely.

    Beautiful writing -- thank you for sharing this.

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  36. Oh, goodness, give her an extra hug from Nani tonight.

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  37. my heart dropped when I first started reading this, thinking the worst of course, now I am blinking back little tears of joy and wanting to go hug my little man once more tonight

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  38. Oooooo that made me cry a little. I am so glad that she returned, safe and sound. What a horrible feeling to not see her come through that door. And what a wonderful feeling to scoop her up in your arms.

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  39. My first day of Kindergarten i never got off the bus!!! The development where we lived looked all the same from the bus windows! But I was driven back to my street. My mom never seemed phased by it, but now I'm thinking she must have felt like you! At least I hope she did. Lots of tripods going on over here too! Huge hugs... I can only imagine your thoughts... it makes my stomach quiver to think about it!

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  40. thank goodness she's safe...similar thing happened to me when i was younger, except I wandered off when I saw a bookstore, and my parents kept going down the street; were terrified when they didn't see me. I got a BIG lecture for that one.

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  41. (((HUGS!!!)))

    What a relief, mama...

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  42. Thank you for sharing such an wonderful story, you should be so proud of YOU and your daughter. What a great space for you to be in to remember that loving, catching the fall and being there in the present for security and safety is the ONLY priority --- the rest can come later. The world is big(ger) than we all know. Sending parenting/mom love to you and thank you for huge perspective I need to remember. Love the symbolic tripod.

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  43. That made me cry TWICE. At the beginning because it scared me, so much that Isabela was lost and scared, and at the end because it worked out so wonderfully and I wish that I had been a mom as understanding and loving as you.
    You really do make me cry. I am so happy that the afternoon ended with smiles and giggles and even tripods!

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  44. Anonymous10:34 PM

    Anna, Oh my gosh! This one made me cry. POOR BABY! She must have felt so very far away. Thank God she's OK. And you handled it like a real pro - great job! (I think I would have been a crying, yelling, nervous wreck!) Extra hugs are definitely in order for Isbella - give her some from Long Island, NY too. :o) ~D

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  45. Oh my, I would be terrified! I'm so glad she was home quickly and safely. And what a beautiful way to tell this story, it makes me want to hold my children tight and be that soft place for them to land.

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  46. Oh my gosh,this just made me leave lurkdom to say how I lived through this episode with you a little bit,sat here with tears in my eyes.
    Glad your precious daughter is safe at home with Mama.

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  47. Dear Anna,

    I am so glad that your little one found her safe place again, in your arms.
    Your writing is so beautiful. I feel as if I am right beside you soaking up every detail and then I look around and you are no where to be found.

    I look forward to your posts each day. Thanks for all the inspiration that you share.

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  48. I can't imagine! We haven't quite gotten there yet, and I am so nervous!
    I saw you in my new issue of Living. It's funny B/c I remmeber seeing your spot posted on your blog a few months ago, and now it's int he mag. What long lapse in time!Congrats!
    Jen R

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  49. Oh, what a lovely post. Thanks so much for writing.

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  50. Anonymous8:11 AM

    Made me cry - relating to my own! So glad she is home and safe! Life is good and fair!

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  51. I found your blog some time ago and I am hooked...You express yourself beautifully!

    I can't even imagine going through this for a minute and am surprised the bus driver would let her get off at the wrong stop to have to walk alone home. I think a sub-driver should have a list of who gets off at each stop so things like this don't happen.

    But I glad she made it home safely...I'm sure she will never forget this experience or miss the stop again
    ~Hugs

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  52. How terrifying! In know the feeling exactly because a similar thing happened to us. The panic of both child and adult is palpable. I'm so glad everything turned out OK.

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  53. Oh, that was a terrifying experience. Glad to hear that she made it home safely and her fears quickly subsided as she found the comfort of her mom's arms.

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  54. Did you hear my sigh of relief? Oh my goodness. I am so thankful for your happy ending.

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  55. i felt every second of your anguish as i read this.
    it is the worst feeling in the world.
    my son decided to hide on me at a playground once (one we had never been to before) and it was the longest 4 minutes of my life.
    the feeling is beyond words...only truly comprehended by another mother who has felt the same.
    you are her soft place and she will treasure it always.
    so happy all is well.

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  56. Phyllis Dobbs2:45 PM

    Hi Anna, I can't imagine how terrified you were. It makes you realize even more how precious the minutes you have with your children are.

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  57. Phyllis Dobbs2:46 PM

    Hi Phyllis! You’ve been “tagged”! It’s fun! But if you don’t want to play, that’s ok! 1. Link to the tagger! 2. Share 7 random or wierd facts about yourself on your blog. 3. Tag 7 people, post their names and links to their blogs on your blog. 4. Tell the 7 people you tagged by posting “Tag you’re it” on their blogs in their comments box and explain the “rules” to them. Nobody’s obligated! Just have fun!

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  58. I cried a little when she came through the door. I am so glad everything turned out great, and you told it so wonderfully that I felt like I was the one anxiously awaiting my wee girls return. Gotta go hug her now!

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  59. Anna Maria...beautiful story...but now those boys need to be reminded that they are her protectors.

    I think we've all had this happen at least once. I clearly remember the pit in my stomach until my lost child was found!

    Have a great day!

    With friendship,
    Lisa

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  60. Before I became a mom, I never know I could love so much or worry so much.

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  61. Anonymous4:48 PM

    OMG this is one of the most scariest things to happen to a parent!!! I'm glad everything worked out, praise God, for watching over her. I too had something similar happen, and it can be the worst feeling ever!!! You think of all the horrible things that could have happened to your child! Glad everything worked out!

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  62. Total and utter terror followed by moments of absolute joy and love. Yep, that pretty much sums it up for parenting. Forget the military -- Mommy -- the hardest job you'll ever love.

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  63. Anonymous11:49 PM

    My daughter is 23, but that sure brought back memories.

    ~elaine~

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  64. I just wanted to say I TOTALLY LOVE your blog, its so COLORFUL and INSPIRING!
    Love this rug , where did you get it??
    Lovely!!!!!!!!!!

    Jen Ramos
    '100% Recycled DESIGNER Cards'
    www.madebygirl.com

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  65. Oh dear. I have to remember that sometimes, not to try and fix it and help them learn for next time, just let them enjoy the embrace of mommy's love and be fixed and learn later.

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  66. I felt like I was living all of those scary seven minutes too! My Kindergartener doesn't ride the bus home everyday, just once in awhile, so whenever he does, I'm so worried that something like this will happen! Thankfully, the worst so far has been the bus missing his stop, and stopping 3 minutes later when it came back in the other direction after the cul-de-sac. Thank goodness for that cul-de-sac! She's a cutie-pie with that tripod. And you're an awesome mommy for just giving hugs and no lectures.

    Can I just say how excited I am about "Drawing Room"???

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  67. I had to re-read this post, as I didn't get to the last time I came here. She's lucky to have you AM-and vice versa.

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  68. Anna-
    You may not have time to get to this considering all the comments that got left here for you about the sweet reunion between you and your daughter...but I just wanted to let you know that you have blessed me so much by sharing that.

    I have a 6 year old, also Isabella, and we have been at odds with each other. Because she has 2 younger siblings, she often gets left out or neglected while I'm tending to the other 2 (1 and 3 yrs old). Sometimes, I expect her to be a "grown up" because she "knows better", but I always forget that she is still a child and that she still needs lots of attention and cuddling. We had a bit of an argument this morning before she left for school and when I read what you said about a big girl spilling off your lap, but still so tiny in her heart...that was a great reminder for me to just love on my daughter when she's scared instead of telling her all the ways she should have done things. And you're right, the world is still so huge, I'm not handing her over to it anytime soon! Thanks so much for sharing-it was my good cry for the day.

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  69. What a wonderful sound it is to hear, "Mommy, mommy, mommy..." even if it is teary-eyed. My 6-year old doesn't take the bus to school, but I often wonder if something like this would happen. So glad for your quick, happy ending!

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  70. So scary! I did the same thing on a city bus when I was little, but when I realized it, I rode the bus to the end of the line before figuring out what to do!
    So glad your little one landed softly in your arms!

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  71. Oh mama, the fear you must have felt, and the relief that must have followed. I'm so glad she is safely at home now.

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  72. Beautifully said. I could feel it with you and have felt those feelings before for my own children.

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  73. I just want to say what a beautiful post this was. Since I somehow knew your little sweetie was going to be OK, I just fell softly into your delightful writing and sweet love for your dd. I absolutely loved the paragraph and what you said that ended in: That giggle is life. Ah the joys and ups and downs of motherhood. You are a beautiful person and mother. :)

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  74. Well I am crying as I sit here in the dark at 5am and the house still asleep. The ache of a mother's arms without her baby, the ache of a mother's heart when the baby rushes home and the joy when all is made well. I have to tell you I read your blog not just for the sewing and fabric but for the FAMILY. You appear to manage it so well and I give you much credit for this. It is so difficult to set our priorities and it fills my heart to see you do it, even though I'm sure it is very difficult. Keep it up!

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  75. Orangepoppy11:47 PM

    holy cow, you have got me in sobs over here...what a beautiful post...I actually wanted to crawl up in your lap myself, thanks for that wonderful description of motherhood! You, as always are an inspiration!

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  76. Loosing site of my 2 year old daughter for a minute in a store is enough is send me into a panic - let alone 7 minutes with her on a bus heading somewhere! What a beautifuly written story.

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  77. Wow I seriously teared up!! I can't wait to have kids.

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  78. linda lu1:40 AM

    Oh wow.... With my 4 year old tucked safely into bed and my 7 month pregnant belly, I'm just sitting here crying. Oh how I wish the world was always a safe place.
    I also remember taking a "shortcut" walking home from school one day. I got lost. It ended with a woman driving me back to my school to find two police cars and my mom... who yelled at me! I like your response so much better. Thanks for sharing, what a lesson!

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  79. Oh I love this post so much, your insight is so wonderful.

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