I don’t feel bad for myself that I’ve lost my mother (so many people go through so much worse), but I often feel bad for my mother missing the great and glorious pleasure of watching Mary grow up. Oh yes, I know heaven’s a beautiful place and I know she’s observing from above, but nothing compares with holding Mary’s small hand as we walk to school, cuddling to read stories at night, her long, loving hugs every hour of the day.
For birthday photos this year, Mary chose her own bedroom– one of her favorite places on earth.
She’s proud of the quilt we stitched together, her mismatched bedding and shelf of treasures.
While she’s scarcely a half-inch taller, Mary’s grown so much this year. Creative and funny, smart and silly— she’s made new friends, written stories, drawn pictures and developed a dozen new skills.
Of all Mary’s qualities, I’m most proud of her teacher’s emphatic statement at our last parent-teacher conference, “Mary is so very, very kind. She’s kind to everyone in our class, everyone on the playground.”
Shy by nature, Mary’s felt the sting of playground cruelty and has compassion for anyone who’s hurting.
I know she’s not perfect. Absolute kindness presents a lifelong challenge for each of us, but no words from her teacher could have thrilled me more.
And old-fashioned girl, she wears skirts or dresses seven days a week, believes in angels and fairies, loves her dollies, reads books about past centuries and very much enjoys life as a little girl. In fact, several of her friends’ mothers tell me they like their daughters to play with Mary because she plays little girl games like princesses and house and school– none of this pretending to be a teenager before her time.
This past year Mary fell in love with the art of sewing. She’s created bags and skirts, nightgowns and pajama pants. Late at night she’ll visit my room with patterns she’s drawn up for her next project. After setting up and taking my sewing machine on our kitchen table nearly every day, we decided to turn part of Mary’s room into a sewing area.
We found the hutch and chair for a few dollars in the classifieds, a corner desk and shelves at IKEA. A Saturday of painting and assembling and the room started to emerge (by the way– we found we love assembling IKEA furniture so much, we will happily put yours together anytime you ask).
One of our favorite elements of the room is the raised cutting/ironing table. Three Ikea EXPEDIT
shelves topped with a scrap of particle board the guys at Home Depot gave us for free. We wrapped the board in heat proof fabric and then this lovely quilted fabric from JoAnn’s. Our cutting board fits between the table and the wall and we pull it out whenever needed.
This shelf has always been on the wall, but now it holds not only Mary’s blessing dress, but our newest Elsa costume creation,
and, of course, bunnies.
Just having the sewing machine out and available has made a huge difference– not only in creative projects, but basic mending too.
OK, I know some of you really want a close-up of the shelves. Cutest chicken pincushion in the world courtesy of Lisa the Mary-fairy godmother.
Her own personal paradise.
Although my mother can’t sit beside her or read a page out loud, I know she’s watching, guiding, caring for my Mary. And I know she’s absolutely, unreservedly delighted with this little girl– all she is and everything she’s becoming.