Thursday, December 26, 2013

Too Much Commotion and a Lot of Courage

Paige, the youngest of our four children, was the only one we planned.  When I realized how overwhelmed I was raising three babies born in three I years, I changed my mind and unplanned a fourth.  But it was too late.  Paige was already on the way.
a couple weeks old
From the time Paige was born we knew she was an extra special girl.  A different personality from three older siblings, Paige has always been mellow, easy-going, happy and content.  As a newborn she often took four hour naps and woke up cooing and smiling.  
nine months old
In the chaos of raising three very busy and very opinionated toddlers and preschoolers, Paige was a breath of fresh air.  She reminded me WHY I love being a mom.  Peace-making and peace-loving, Paige was naughty so infrequently that we would laugh if she tried to throw a tantrum.  After one attempt at naughtiness I posted on Facebook, "It only took Paige 3 1/2 years to prove to us that she isn't completely angelic."
First class Paigey took for herself - Intro to Dance with Miss Cheryl
Paige is eager to please and much more timid than her boisterous, loud, and somewhat crazy older siblings.  New circumstances, new faces or new anything tend to intimidate and overwhelm her.  She does NOT like to be the center of attention, but is really witty, clever, and fun in situations where she feels comfortable.

Paige is now in second grade and her adorable personality emerges more with each year.  A little bit of a perfectionist, she likes do to things in a certain order and follow directions to a T.  She takes school very seriously.  She was selected to be Mrs. Clause in a Readers Theater that her second grade class was presenting to the parents on the last day of school before Christmas break.  Paige was really excited about being chosen to read the main part but anxious about being the center of attention.  
2nd grade
There was confusion surrounding the dates and times of the presentation that Paige was in.  Paige REALLY wanted me to be there and I didn't want to miss it.  At Paige's direction, I emailed her teacher to confirm that I had the date and time entered correctly in my calendar.  In the chaos of a very busy week I read the teacher's response incorrectly and went into the day of the presentation with the wrong time in my calendar.
She got all dressed up and we curled her hair.
Paige doesn't like to be rushed or hurried and gets nervous if we're late for things.  Knowing this, I left my house with enough time to arrive at school and be in Paige's classroom fifteen minutes before the show.  I didn't want to add any extra anxiety to her already revved up nerves.  

I walked confidently into her classroom.  Then stopped dead in my tracks and my heart sank.  The presentation was just wrapping up.  I got to hear Paige read one line.  She gave me a weak smile and immediately I started blinking rapidly in a feeble attempt to hold back the rush of tears.

the line I saw her read.
Paige and I went in the hall after the show.  I held my girl and cried.  Told her how I had been looking forward to it all day, praying for her, and how excited I was to see her shine.  She said, "Mom, I knew when I saw the time that we had it wrong in your calendar and that you wouldn't be there.  It's okay.  But can you stop crying?  It's making me feel like I want to cry too."

We hugged it out in the hallway then went inside for her class party.  I still couldn't pull it together so one of my friends scraped up the pieces of my battered heart, held my hand and whispered, "It's okay."  Talk about an epic fail.  

I was overly emotional the rest of the afternoon - fighting back tears every time I thought about letting my baby girl down.  But I got to join her for her class party.  I treasured every minute of making a snowman craft with her, then headed to the gym for the All School Holiday Sing-a-Long.  
class party and snowman craft
After school Paige and Alli and two of their buddies were signed up to do the Holiday Dance Camp.  All four girls were really excited to learn a dance routine that they would perform at halftime of the high school basketball game.  Until we got to the check-in line.  

I noticed that Paige had gone from excitement to apprehension in a matter of minutes.  I had to shove her toward her snack table with her friends.  A check in my spirit told me to not rush out the door and hang around a bit.  I'm so glad because moments later my Baby disintegrated in my arms.

Silent, shoulder heaving sobs wracked my baby girl's body.  Between gulps she told me, "It's too much commotion.  I can't start my Christmas break off with all this commotion.  I just want to go home."

So we did.  To regroup and pick up Big Brother and Big Sister.  Then back to Dance Camp, but only to watch.  It's all Paige could commit to.

Once we were there, she felt good enough to eat dinner with her buddies and even do two practice rounds.  When she took her shoes and socks off and started smiling, I thought we had overcome the dread.  But the chaos overwhelmed my girl and she was crying in my arms again.  "Take me home Mommy.  I don't want to dance."

So we went home.  Me, my Baby Girl, and my Big Kids.  We were all exhausted and emotional.  There was wisdom in Paige's desire to start our Christmas break with calm instead of commotion.  We crashed on the couch and snuggled - therapy for our tattered emotions.

When Curt got home from work we headed to the high school.  Again.  To watch Alli and her buddies dance during half time.  We got there early and as we stood around in the lobby waiting, I watched Paige's demeanor change again.  She took a couple deep breaths, blowing out deliberately slow and loud.  She squared her shoulders and announced, "Mom,  I changed my decision.  I think I want to dance after all."

Off we ran to the practice area.  The kids were still rehearsing and Paige's friends embraced her with the best-ever-second-grade-hugs and told her how happy they were that she changed her mind.  I waved goodbye and joined our dwindling family in the stands.
performance in the cafeteria
Halftime came and the hoard of kids flooded the gym floor for the cutest half time performance you have ever seen.  Alli and her friends in one section, comfortable with the spotlight and hamming it up.  Paige and her buddies, much more timid and clearly thinking through the moves, but dancing in front of a big crowd during halftime of a basketball game.The kids performed the dance twice more in the cafeteria so parents could get good video of their kiddos.

After the performance, Paige was beaming.  She gave me the biggest hug and said, "Mom, that took a lot of courage, but I'm glad I changed my decision."

I've been replaying the events of that day in my mind for the past several days. It's been a long, hard year for our family.  Some beautiful times, but some dark, hard times too.  I think we're all a little exhausted.  And really thankful that we've moved through the valley into a more relaxing, spacious place.  

Paige got it right when she rejected commotion and fought for calm.  And chose courage in the face of fear.  We could all learn from her.  

Thank you Baby Girl for setting the precedent for what has been a magical Christmas break thus far.  Mommy loves you!


  1. I can imagine your feelings when you were there at the wrong time, but you are raising a very understanding little girl. Full of wisdom at such a young age.
    My son turned 9 last week. It's amazing how quick they grow. Glad you guys had a great Christmas! In His love, - R

    1. Thanks Raina. Glad you're running and writing again.